Jailed Mexican activist Nestora Salgado has yet to see freedom two and a half years since she was arrested amid organizing a community police force in the violence-ridden state of Guerrero, but she was far from alone Sunday as family members and supporters gathered outside the prison to celebrate the community leader’s birthday and continue demanding her release.
According to Salgado’s daughter Saira Rodriguez, Sunday’s gathering outside the Tepepan prison where the activist is held was called to celebrate Salgado’s 44th birthday with a “collective visit,” but also to keep pressuring authorities to let her out of jail, the Mexican daily La Jornada reported.
“We do not want to let our guard down in terms of the pressure we’re doing from outside for her freedom,” Rodriguez said.
While more than 100 people gathered outside the prison for the activist’s birthday, Salgado’s daughters went inside to deliver messages of support.
Salgado, a Mexican-born U.S. citizen, was detained in August 2013 on trumped-up charges of kidnapping after she returned to her hometown to organize and head a community police force in Olinala, Guerrero, to confront drug cartels and call attention to the Mexican state's complicity.
Human rights defenders have labeled her a political prisoner, while the United Nations ruled earlier this month that her detention is illegal and arbitrary.
But an opportunity for her possible release has recently come up, shining a light at the end of the tunnel of her 30 months in jail.
Due to a lack of due process, Mexican judges ordered for Salgado’s charges to be opened back up. She has pleaded innocent to all accusations of kidnapping.
The leader of the community police force Salgado spearheaded in Olinala expects the decision about whether she will be freed to be handed down by the second week of March, La Jornada reported.
Nearly 27,000 people have signed an online petition to date demanding the State Attorney General respect Salgado’s human rights and ensure a fair process to see the false charges against her dropped.
Meanwhile, the campaign for her freedom has called on people in the United States to pressure Secretary of State John Kerry to urge the Mexican government to free Salgado.
A message from Salgado in the petition argues that the only case of “kidnapping” is her arbitrary detention criminalizing her for “fighting for peace and justice.”
“We hope that this whole ordeal that has happened to my mom can end,” added Rodriguez. “It’s already been almost three years … in which the federal and state government has continued violating her rights, making her a victim of the system.
Organizing community police forces is allowed by law in Olinala and other Indigenous towns in Guerrero.
WATCH: Protesters Demand Freedom for Nestora Salgado