Community, Region, Santa Cruz

Guanacaste victim of femicide had protection measures since December

Esta publicación también está disponible en: Español
Translator: Arianna Hernández

Guanacaste recorded the first femicide of 2022 in the province on the night of March 3, in the community of Huacas, Santa Cruz. The alleged killer Esteban Rovira Vargas, 40, stabbed his wife, Maria Fernanda Quesada, 28, to death with a kitchen knife in their house.

Esteban Rovira was arrested by Public Force officers in Lagunilla, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the scene of the crime, when he was fleeing in a white pickup truck. The officers reported that he handed over a firearm and that he had a bloody knife in the back seat. Now he’ll face preventive prison as the investigation, indictment and trial proceed.

Quesada had a restraining order from the Misdemeanor Court since December, when she filed a complaint against her husband. The case was investigated by the Santa Cruz Prosecutor’s Office in file 21-000841-1585-VD.

“At around 10:15 at night, we were informed of apparent domestic violence in the Huacas area, La Garita Vieja. We sent a unit and fellow officers observed a female lying on the ground. Multiple cuts from a knife were observed on her,” one of the officers told GuanaNoticias news outlet.

So far this year, the country has recorded the violent death of six women, two of which— including that of Maria Fernanda Quesada— have already been classified as femicide by the Gender Deputy Prosecutor’s Office.  The other four are pending classification.

According to the coordinator of the Judiciary Gender Observatory, Dixie Mendoza, Quesada’s domestic violence complaint had proceedings open in the Local Committee for Immediate Attention and Follow-up of High-Risk Cases (CLAIS for the Spanish acronym) of Santa Cruz.

“CLAIS [committees] are made up of judges, prosecutors, Public Force officers and local INAMU representatives. They operate in priority cantons, Santa Cruz being one of them,” explained Mendoza.

The purpose of these bodies is to guarantee the protection, safety and assistance of victims, including transferring them to protection zones.

Since 2017, Guanacaste has recorded an average of two femicides per year.

Demonstrations and marches against gender violence are more and more visible in Guanacaste’s coastal communities. In January, a group of women marched in Samara against the “Guide to Good Security Practices in Tourism Operations,” created by the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT for the Spanish acronym) and the National Women’s Institute (INAMU for the Spanish acronym). Photo: Empowered Samara

Femicidal Couples

Maria Fernanda’s femicide bears similarities to the two that were recorded in the province last year, Francis and Carolina. In all three cases, their significant others are the main suspect of having stabbed them to death. All three women were also mothers.

Maria Fernanda had two children, ages nine and two. The latter was also the son of Rovira, the alleged killer.

The Judiciary’s Gender Observatory’s website describes femicide as normally being “the product of staggered violence and an unequal relationship between the woman and the femicidal man.”

Almost six out of 10 women and girls who die violently in the world are killed by their mate or relatives, according to an analysis by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Femicide is the most violent manifestation against women, but in Guanacaste, other types of aggression are experienced daily. Since 2016, Guanacaste is the region in the country where the second highest number of women reported violence, according to the Law on the Penalization of Violence against Women (LPVCM for the Spanish acronym), surpassed only by the Southern Zone.


If you, a friend, family member or acquaintance are in danger, seek help. You can find information here.

Here’s this informative poster (English on second page) if you want to share it on social networks or print it out and hang it in your business, outside of your home or in a visible place in your community.