After 24 days on hunger strike demanding better conditions or her immediate release, Mexican-American activist Nestora Salgado was transferred from a maximum-security prison in the state of Nayarit to a low-security facility in Mexico City.
“I'm on hunger strike because they are not respecting my rights, my human rights. They are not treating me like a human,” Salgado declared at the beginning of her hunger strike.
The independent community police leader from the conflict-ridden state of Guerrero began the hunger strike after she had been refused medical attention for over two years, as well as receiving what she and her family called psychological torture in the federal women’s prison.
“My sister would tell me, when I went to visit her, that she would never wish for anyone to spend one day in the maximum security prison, and well thank to God she has now been transferred, they are brining her here to Mexico City,” Cleotilde Salgado, sister of the political prisoner, said Friday morning.
Collectives, activists and the family of Salgado have organized campaigns for her freedom since she was detained in Olinala, Guerrero, in August 2013, after being accused of kidnapping.
Salgado, a naturalized U.S. citizen and defender of indigenous rights, was detained without an arrest warrant after she and other members of the Community Police detained local politicians and municipal police suspected of having ties with organized crime.
Federal charges would later be dropped, however she remains in custody under Guerrero State kidnapping charges.
After living 20 years in the United States, Salgado returned to her native community of Olinala in 2012 to help form the community’s indigenous and independent police force also known as the CRAC. She was elected by communal assembly to be a commander.
The CRAC, formed in 1995, is a legally and constitutionally recognized innovative system of participatory justice and policing based on indigenous “uses and customs.” The more than 18-year-old project operates in more than 128 indigenous and mestizo communities of the Costa Chica and la Montaña regions of Guerrero, and counts with thousands of volunteer members elected through community assemblies.
Guerrero State Law 701 and Article 2.A of the Mexican Constitution guarantees the right of indigenous people to self-government and self-defense, including the formation of their own police forces.
“She truly demonstrated that the struggle is a dignified struggle, we are simply fighting for security in our community, for our families, because what occurs in Olinala cannot be tolerated anymore. There have been thefts, kidnappings, extortions and the municipal police, like that of the case of Iguala, protected the criminals,” says Salgado’s cousin, Giovani Salgado, also a member of the CRAC.