The Women Who Fled Repression in Nicaragua Are Now Suffering in the Streets of Costa Rica
This article is a slightly edited version of the original published by Confidencial.
The Nicaraguan women who emigrated to Costa Rica to escape Daniel Ortega’s repression are suffering “structural violence” on behalf of the country that took them in, since the institutions “aren’t responding to their needs.” Many of these women are working temporary jobs and some have even resorted to selling their bodies so that they and their children can eat.
To sociologist Karina Hernandez, Official for the Prevention of Gender-based Sexual Violence for RET International, “the Costa Rican state has been in complete debt” with the 82,000 Nicaraguans who have asked for asylum. The process for regulating their immigration status is very slow despite the fact that, historically, Costa Rica has been a country that receives its labor force from outside, regardless of gender.
The lack of protection that Hernandez denounced has caused the Nicaraguans who are requesting asylum to live in single rented rooms, sleep on the streets, or in a park called La Merced. In many cases, they’ve had to turn to prostitution and they don’t have access to health or educational services. "Really, we’re in a dynamic of great instability, and I’d say an evisceration of the human rights of these asylum seekers," she underlined.
Ana Quiros, of the group Feminist Articulation, spoke regretfully of the xenophobia Nicaraguans are facing in Costa Rica, particularly towards those who are poorest. In that social context, "Nicaraguan women are at a disadvantage in relation to the Costa Rican population," because their rights and those of their children are violated.
Silvia Cerda, an exile from Masaya, has experienced that revictimization that Quiros spoke of. Silvia hasn’t lost the hope of returning to her country. "This year and a half in exile has hurt. I tell you sincerely, it hurts. To know that my daughter has gone through three serious medical crises and I’m living here – it’s not fair, that’s violence. My daughter developed asthma as a result of the confrontations. When I left the city, she was in intensive care," Silvia Cerda recalled.
Selena Baltodano is another exile from Masaya. She emigrated to Costa Rica with her whole family while she was pregnant. Having her children close gives her some assurance, but at the same time, it keeps her from working. She has to live in a small rented room because the apartment owners "don’t take children." For her and her family, exile is "a very painful thing".
FI name: February 2020