Activist Leader Who Led Ayotzinapa Protests Found Decapitated (translation)

NOTE: Article is an English translation from the original Spanish.  Originally posted by on February 5, 2015.  Original article here. 

Brutal crimes keep shocking Mexico.  On Wednesday, a crime was learned that shook the states of Guerrero and Morelos: activist Gustavo Salgado Delgado was found decapitated.  The young 32 year old was the leader of the Popular Revolutionary Front (FPR) and more than 4 months ago, when the 43 students of the Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa went missing, he led protests urging authorities to present the missing students.

The activist leader was kidnapped on Tuesday by an armed group when he left a general assembly of farm workers from the Montaña de Guerrero.  On Wednesday at 5PM, the worst had been confirmed: he had been assassinated.  His body was found on an isolated location in the state of Morelos, with visible signs of torture, and he had been decapitated.

Gustavo Salgado Delgado had been planning on participating in marches advocating for the missing students of Ayotzinapa, which took place on Wednesday at the University of Morelos.  The activist had been an avid participant of the movement advocating for the 43 students who have been missing in Iguala since the 26th of September, 2014.

Salgado was also known for advocating for and organizing farm workers in Guerrero. These farm workers were affected by the heavy rains of hurricanes Ingrid and Manuel, and were hoping to settle in Morelos, where they wished to work in the cane fields, without any rights.  The presence of these displaced farmworkers became a political issue for owners of the cane fields, according to reports from the newspaper Excelsior.

His Disappearance

Members of the FPR, who announced on Tuesday that their leader was missing, blamed the kidnapping on the authorities of the state of Morelos and the state of Guerrero, as well as the governor of the state of Morelos, Graco Ramirez.

Those who last saw Salgado announced that Salgado had left a meeting in El Chivatero, Morelos on Tuesday at 6PM, and took public transit to the municipality of Ayala, where he was to attend another meeting.  Those who waited for him in Ayala were worried by his absence, and started looking for him in nearby districts in the municipality, and soon after decided to announce his disappearance.

The reasons for his kidnapping and assassination are unclear, and the crime remains under investigation.  Members of the FPR issued a press release in which they maintained that “the political activity of our comrade has been consistently in the defense of land rights for farmworkers, and for the betterment of the municipality of Ayala, for the migrant farm workers of the Montaña de Guerrero and Oaxaca.

They add: “it is because of these activities that corrupt local governments and the state have maintained constant vigilance and harassment against [Salgado], as is demonstrated by his illegal detention on March 20, 2014 in Cuernavaca, Morelos, while he was participating in a march organized by the Citizen’s Front against laws of taxation.

For Women of Color Who Have Considered Silence When the Shame Became Too Much: An Open Letter

“The stories are endless, infinitely familiar, traded by the faithful like baseball cards, fondled until they fray around the edges and blur into the apocryphal.” – Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem 

When they ask you to be quiet, speak louder. There is something in the sound of your voice that men in power and the women who love them cannot stand the weight of. It is conviction, or something like self-love in the midst of so much hatred for that thing which stirs within us and compels us to speak.

They will tell you he did not do it. I do not know. I trust him. I love him. He held me. He is my brother, my friend, my mentor. You have no evidence. Where is your proof?

Do not show them where you keep your wounds. Save that for your sisters. Keep a tally.

There was that time in Cutter you witnessed a man pin a woman half his size against the wall and kick her legs apart. You danced around them hoping someone would intervene. No one ever did and you did not feel safe enough to speak. That night you vomit into the sink of your bathroom. The next day, you do not go to class. That was not repentance enough for the sin of sacrificing another woman to the beast of black man love but you allow yourself forgiveness.

There was the boy you loved who remained silent as you defended yourself and your friend from a man bigger than the both of you. The boy could not betray his friend, so he betrayed you, and you loved him anyway.

The time you saw the freshman girl, drunk as she was, being persuaded to leave with the boy you know has a temper. The one who threatens to gangbang bitches when he’s drunk. You try to give her the eye, shake your head, say no as quietly as you know how and in the end, she does not go. You are relieved.

The time you were dancing with your girls and the DJ asked the men in the room to leave no woman dancing by herself. He picks you up from behind and places you squarely against the soft mound biggering beneath his sweats. For a moment you forget to breathe. When you turn around to face him he is already backing away.

There was the woman you loved who left school without finishing. She sat you down before she left, without telling you she was leaving, and told you where she kept the knives. You were on a balcony. You remember watching the night sky, the path that led into the forest, the windows glowing warmly in the house across the street and thinking: what would it look like to disappear from all this pain? After she left, the man who bled her dry would visit you at work and leer at you until you served him. You had panic attacks for months.

“He was drunk.”

“He was stone cold sober.”

“He threw his phone at me”

“He chokes out women.”

“Stay away from him!”

“There were more of them in the room.”

We, older women as we are, have stories we will not tell you out of shame. We fear we will not be believed. That the men will learn of these stories and threaten us with lawsuits, with bodily harm, with social alienation. That the women will call us petty, conniving, liars.

We do not have reports, but we have memories and the nightmares that keep us up at night. We have the lived experience of our bodies and the fear that grips them when certain men walk by. The knowing that you too could be sacrificed at the alter of black man love.

These days, the reality is setting in that no other woman need be sacrificed at the altar simply because every woman before me has. It is not enough, anymore, that we whisper these stories to each other, that we pull women aside and warn them discretely.  We must be brave and force these men to contend with our rage. To witness the grief that comes out of gross neglect. Community is not community at the expense of survivors. It is not community without accountability, friendship, honesty, transparency, and the commitment to showing up for each other.

Thank you, young as you are, brave as you are, for refusing to consider silence when the shame became too much. For speaking out. For pushing us to choose between the men we love and the women they have broken. When you speak, there will be violence leveled against you because you threaten the very fabric of our community. The men you call out: they will be loved, they will be respected, they will have friends. And others will protect him. That is how they will continue to abuse.

But there are more of us who will listen and are ready to provide support. There are students, professors, staff members and alumni who stand in solidarity with survivors. In the new spaces we create together, you will never have to offer yourself up to the mouths of men to be worthy, to be valued, to be loved. In this new community, you will speak and we will listen.

Sadia Hassan is a guest columnist