Nestora Salgado returned home on Tuesday after being released from prison in Mexico. She said she was happy but in pain, and also determined to fight for others yet to be freed.
Nestora Salgado arrived at Sea-Tac International Airport Tuesday afternoon declaring herself happy but in pain after spending the last 2½ years in Mexican prisons.
“I have too much trouble to walk,” said Salgado, 44, who was released by Mexican authorities Friday after judges cleared her of kidnapping charges related to arrests made by a community police force she headed. Suffering from a neurological condition that went untreated in prison, and kept for much of that time in solitary confinement, she also said she had pain in her arms and her spine.
The homecoming for the Renton woman seemed joyous, nonetheless. Her husband, José Luis Avila, was the first to hug her as she came through the gate with one of her grown daughters, Grisel Rodriguez Salgado, tightly clutching her arms.
While one of her daughters lives in Mexico and the other two recently traveled there in anticipation of her release, Avila said he had not seen his wife for nearly three years. “I’m kind of shaky right now,” Avila said before her arrival.
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After their embrace, he said, “I have so many emotions.”
Dozens of supporters crowded around them, many chanting slogans in Spanish celebrating her release and calling for the freedom of others in Mexico they consider political prisoners.
Alternating between English and Spanish, Salgado also spoke about such prisoners, including members of the legal community police force she had helped form to fight alleged corruption and organized crime. They need someone to fight for them the way her supporters had fought for her, she said.
Some of Salgado’s most active advocates were there to greet her, including Fred Hyde, a retired administrative-law judge and member of the Freedom Socialist Party.
He met Avila when he was a lone protester; Avila would stand in front of the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building in downtown Seattle with pictures of his wife.
Despite coping with Parkinson’s disease, Hyde sprang into action, getting the socialist party involved and reaching out to attorneys. One of them, Alejandra Gonza, who worked on the case with Seattle University’s International Human Rights Clinic, had tears in her eyes as she hugged Salgado on Tuesday.
Gonza and Avila said that they want Salgado evaluated by doctors as soon as possible. But there are other things already on her agenda, too, including a victory rally at the Mexican consulate Saturday.
Despite everything, Salgado said she hoped to go back to Mexico. “My people need too many things,” she said. Yet, she added, “I’m scared to go too.”