On Friday, 19-year-old Eva Morera Ulloa was shot in the back and killed by her ex-partner, according to Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Police.
Morera’s body was found in Barva de Heredia, and authorities shortly thereafter arrested their suspect, a 24-year-old male with a surname of Garita.
News of the femicide spread quickly. Not only was Morera still a student, the daily La Nación reported, but she was a young mother and had been an advocate calling on Costa Rica to remember previous victims of gender violence.
In December 2018, reflecting on what had been a dangerous year for women in Costa Rica, she published a now widely shared post on Facebook:
“Today, I have taken the time to think about the wave of femicides that have happened this year; 2018 is about to end and 24 women have died at the hands of men, how many more are left to die in these 26 days remaining of the year?” she wrote.
Morera hoped to “find a solution to this wave of femicides” and believed it would require contributions from everyone.
She closed with a message of solidarity for victims.
“If you are being attacked right now: Here I am,” she wrote. “I will be your friend, I will be your companion so you can get out of this hell, I will be there giving all of me to you!”
* * * *
By Friday night, President Carlos Alvarado had joined those mourning Morera’s death.
“The murder of Eva and that of all the other women who have been victims of machismo fill me with deep sadness,” President Alvarado wrote.
“We will work to redouble efforts and do more to prevent and address situations of violence against women. … We are going to do more for women, for girls, boys and families who suffer sexist violence.”
Last year, Alvarado and the Costa Rican government declared that reducing violence against women was “a national priority.”
Costa Rica planned to increase the number of shelters for domestic violence victims, create more local committees to respond to reports of aggression, and open specialized offices to address the issue in the 15 highest risk cantons.
“Evidently, we need to do more as a government and as a society,” Alvarado wrote Friday.
* * * *
Last August, two female tourists were killed within 24 hours of each other in Costa Rica. In November 2018, a U.S. visitor was killed at a property she was renting in Escazú.
The incidents shined an international spotlight on tourism safety in Costa Rica. They also drew attention to the ongoing problem of gender violence in this country.
In 2018, there were 26 femicides in Costa Rica, according to data from the Deputy Prosecutor’s Office for Gender and the Inter-institutional Subcommission on Femicide Prevention.
Femicides, defined by the Prosecutor’s Office as the murder of a woman because of her gender, accounted for more than 40% of the homicides against women last year.
In 2019, there have been at least 11 femicides and at minimum one every month, according to the latest report from Costa Rica’s judicial system.
* * * *
Eva Morera Ulloa’s funeral was Sunday, Nov. 3 in Barva de Heredia.
It was attended by family, friends and the executive president of the National Institute for Women, Patricia Mora.
At the ceremony, Morera’s father echoed the message Eva had shared not 12 months prior. He asked that everyone join forces to eliminate a culture of violence against women.
“It is because we want them alive and well that we will commit all our work and all our energies in this struggle,” Mora said.
Report situations of gender violence in Costa Rica to 9-1-1. INAMU also offers legal advice, psychological support and other services for women facing situations of violence.
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