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Supporters Rally for Renton Woman Held in Mexican Prison

Paula Wissel
Grisel Rodriquez, daughter or Nestora Salgado, fights back tears as she speaks at the rally.

Human rights advocates rallied in front of the Mexican consulate in Seattle on Tuesday on behalf of a Renton woman being held in a Mexican prison.

Nestora Salgado, who was the commander of a community police force, was arrested in the Mexican state of Guerrero in August and charged with kidnapping. Her family in the Seattle area say the charges are trumped up in retaliation for her efforts to combat corruption in Mexico.

Credit Paula Wissel / KPLU
Labor and socialist groups rallied on behalf or Nestora Salgado.

Salgado is a naturalized U.S. citizen who has lived in the Seattle area since 1991. She returns to her hometown of Olinala several times a year. Her daughter Grisel Rodriquez says her mother takes clothes and supplies to the poverty-stricken area, which is also riddled with violence from gangs and drug cartels.

Last year, Salgado got more involved. She helped set up a community police force, which Rodriquez says has been inaccurately referred to as a vigilante force. But, she says, while vigilantes are outside the law, these indigenous forces are actually allowed in parts of Mexico.

The video below shows Salgado, in her role as commander, addressing the troops in Olinala.

Salgado’s daughter says the governor of the state of Guerrero initially endorsed the ad hoc police force, even giving them trucks for conducting patrols.

“But as soon as my mom started showing proof that a lot of politicians were corrupt, he withdrew the support. She started getting in the way of a lot of people’s  financial interests, and now she’s locked up in prison,” Rodriquez said.

Salgado’s cause has been taken up by the International Human Rights Legal Clinic at Seattle University, which has petitioned the United Nations for her release.

Credit Paula Wissel / KPLU
Nestora Salgado's husband, Jose Luis Avila, is seen at the "Free Nestora" rally in front of the Mexican consulate.

On Tuesday, as local labor and socialist groups marched and chanted, Rodriguez and her father, Jose Luis Avila, knocked on the door of the Mexican consulate in downtown Seattle.  An aide let them in, but didn’t allow the media to enter.

When they came out, Rodriquez told me the consulate official agreed to deliver their letter asking that Salgado’s case be looked into to the president of Mexico. 

Asked whether she's satisfied, Rodriquez said, "We accomplished our goal for today, yes, but I won’t feel satisfied until she’s home, until my mom’s home."

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.
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