Community, Human Rights, Special Stories, Santa Cruz, Liberia

Women in Guanacaste marched against gender violence

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Translator: Arianna Hernández

November 25 is becoming increasingly relevant in the streets of Guanacaste. Yesterday dozens of women organized demonstrations in their communities to raise their voices on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This happened in Liberia and Tamarindo.

In Liberia, the protesters marched from the Courts of Justice to the central park. Their main requests revolved around stopping the domestic violence rooted in Guanacaste’s culture, harassment in the street and sexual violence.

“[Being a woman in Guanacaste] is quite complicated,” said Fiorella, an activist with the group La Hoguera, who preferred not to give her last name. “There’s a lot of machismo (male chauvinism) still rooted in the culture and it’s very complicated to go out in the streets dressed however you want, because you feel too harassed and repressed.”

“That’s why we’re here, because we’re going to raise our voices and show that we aren’t going to let them continue to repress us,” she added.

In Tamarindo, another group held a sit-in for two hours in Oneida Park, in the district’s central area. The activity was organized by the Cepia Association, which works with the vulnerable population on the coasts of Santa Cruz.

Later they marched to the community’s roundabout, in front of the beach, above all demanding peace and freedom to walk the streets without fear.

Especially in the coastal and beach areas, we’ve lost certain places of security,” stressed the director of the organization, Maria Jose Cappa.

“We’d like to regain peace of mind when walking through our communities, enjoy the beach even at night and dress the way we like without it meaning putting ourselves in a vulnerable situation,” she added.

The group that protested in Tamarindo marched from Oneida Park to the roundabout in front of the district’s beach. Photo: Noelia Esquivel S.

A Femicidal Canton

At the end of the demonstration, activists in Liberia created an altar to commemorate women who were victims of femicide. On it, they highlighted Francis Miranda and Justina Galo, two women murdered at the hands of men in the canton during the last 18 months.

“I’m here for all these friends, for me and for all the ancestors,” said Adriana Navarro, 24, in Liberia.

Here we are representing those [women] who never gave up… and for all these little girls,” she said, referring to the girls present at the march.

In the last four years, Liberia has been the canton that’s never missing from the statistics of femicide in Guanacaste. Since 2018, it has reported at least one femicide per year.

This year, Francis Miranda was stabbed and killed by her former partner in the central district on September 8. A month later, Nicoyan Carolina Briceño died in the same way. They both had children. Francis was also in the seventh month of her pregnancy.

Women in Liberia created an altar in memory of the women who were victims of femicide. Photo: Yamlek Mojica

With the femicides of Francis and Carolina, Guanacaste reached the average of two femicides per year that it has registered since 2017.

A woman also died violently on October 3 in Bagaces. The Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ) has not yet confirmed whether her case will be classified as a femicide.

Demand Peace

In Tamarindo, the group demanded freedom in public places.

We feel unprotected. We can’t walk at night on the beaches or in the streets because there are men who harass us,” said Esperanza Landero, a resident of Villareal, Tamarindo. “They think that we’re provoking [it] and it’s not like that. We have to be free any way we go about.”

The Tamarindo Development Association (ADIT), which participated in the activity, highlighted the SoSafe app, where people can report dangerous situations in real time. The alerts go out to the community that uses the app and to police authorities.

The Cepia organization also reminded people that they have psychological support both for women who are victims and survivors of violence, as well as for men with anger management problems and other behavioral problems. To access the service, you can contact Cepia at 8483-2153 or 8933-0503.

Other women’s groups met in Cañas, La Cruz and Nosara, on the Nicoyan coast, activists and the regional director of the National Institute of Women (INAMU), Melida Carballo informed The Voice of Guanacaste.