Author: Margie Thompson

Teresa Suárez: “Hurricane María Also Planted Trees”

By María “Cuca” Súarez Toro for Claridad, ESCRIBANA February 5, 2018   A novel initiative developed by the owner of the Jardin y Vivero Plantas de Caparra, Teresa Suárez Toro could become an example for families and communities to contribute to the reforestation of Puerto Rico in an inexpensive, beneficial and simple way, without having to leave their neighborhoods. The origins of the proposal were simple, which is the way Teresa works. One day, sitting in the backyard of her house in Villa Caparra, she observed that her entire backyard was filled with young trees just 4 inches tall....

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Immigrant Women in Puerto Rico: Organizing in solidarity to help each other

María Suárez Toro ESCRIBANA November 1, 2017   The contagious sound of the women who came to meet at the Dominican Woman’s Center on Monday, October 30 filled the air. They met with hugs, kisses, laughter and hundreds of anecdotes about the ups and downs of daily life in post-Hurricane Maria throughout Puerto Rico and the means of survival they had to invent on the spot.  Their meeting place was a house located at a corner of Convalecencia Park in the center of Rio Piedras near the University of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Women’s Center. All the women are...

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Puerto Rico: Shelters for women victims of violence face challenges as violence against women escalates

María Suárez Toro, Escribana October 13, 2017 Casa Julia and three other women’s shelters are closed for lack of electricity and generators, including Casa Luisa Capetillo and Hogar Nueva Mujer (New Woman’s Home). Hogar Ruth (Ruth’s Home) opened with 35 women, but has only 21 beds to accommodate current and new post-Maria victims. In Aibonito in the center of the big island, at least eight cases of domestic violence have been reported and addressed directly during the post-Maria emergency, and others have been recorded by legal and social assistance.   The lack of communication channels, transportation and electricity are...

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Puerto Rico: Majority of legal complaints in “post Hurricane María” devastation based on gender violence

María Suárez Toro ESCRIBANA October 19, 2017   442 cases of requests for protection orders for gender violence under Law 54 have been filed since Hurricane María hit the island on September 20, 2017. Women activists are stepping forward in support of women in their communities to design a mobile health strategy to deal with the massive trauma. Just two shelters for women victims of violence have emergency sources of electricity. Data on the alarming increase of violence against women were presented to Judge Sigifredo Steidel, director of the Office of Court Administrations (OAT) in Puerto Rico on October 19, 2017. These statistics show that arrests for gender-based violence are the second highest basis for legal action under Rule 6, with a total of 680 cases. “It is not surprising the high level of gender violence in the data, but we know that the number is much greater because following events such as Hurricane María, the numbers increase,” said Vilma González, General Coordinator of Peace for the Woman (CPM – Paz Para la Mujer)**.  She noted that there are many concerns in this “post-María” context because courts are not functioning to capacity, nor are police or the Superintendent of Police (Intendencia Policia) as shown by evidence presented in these legal cases. González explained that when stressful events occur such as loss of housing, property or jobs, women are more...

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They’re terrified — but is it “credible fear”?

It’s like being totally lost in a dark forest with enormous twisted trees that are constantly moving and growing, blocking the way. Women mostly from  Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are fleeing horrendous violence in their countries out of desperation and terror for their families and themselves. They come to the U.S. to plea for help and safety with asylum only to be dumped in a cage and passed from prison cells to courtrooms and back by gruff and often hostile Americano guards and judges who may not speak their language.  Their crime? Crossing the US-Mexico border seeking safety and...

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