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Andrea Ruiz asked for protection in Puerto Rico against her ex-partner. They found it charred shortly after


"It is frustrating that all cases do not receive the same resources from the police," complained a reporter who has been covering femicides on the island for years. The murder of Keishla Rodríguez, the ex-partner of a famous boxer, unleashed an unusual display of efforts that, for some, would not have happened without the prominence of the perpetrator.

Andrea Ruiz Costas did everything she could to save herself.

On two occasions, the 35-year-old woman went to the authorities in Puerto Rico to report that her ex-partner was raping her.

The last of her complaints was on March 26, when

she appeared before a municipal judge to ask for protection: she said that the man harassed her at her residence and her work

, that he had attacked her with a knife and that he was blackmailing her by publishing his intimate images.

Both times, the courts found no "cause" to detain Miguel Ocasio, a 40-year-old security guard who had a consensual relationship with her for eight months.

Nor was a restraining order issued for the young woman. 

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His charred body was found on Thursday on the side of a road in the municipality of Cayey, in the center of the island.

He was found by a garbage collector in the morning hours.

The state of disfigurement of the body of Ruiz Costas was such that the doctors of the Institute of Forensic Sciences had to resort to the analysis of his dental plates to be able to identify her.

Shortly after, the agency declared the death a homicide. 

That same day the authorities acted, although it was too late: the young woman's ex-partner was arrested in connection with the crime.

Now the man awaits criminal charges behind bars, after failing to post bail set at just over a million dollars.

"All the cases do not receive the resources of the police"

The serious femicide crisis in Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the United States in which some 3.3 million people live, reached a new


this weekend, not only due to the murder of Andrea Ruiz Costas.

Keishla Rodríguez, a 27-year-old girl, was found dead Saturday in a lagoon under the Teodoro Moscoso bridge, near the capital, San Juan.

Rodríguez had been reported missing since Thursday, after she failed to show up for work at an animal groomer.

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Her family assures that she was pregnant with the well-known Puerto Rican boxer Félix Verdejo, nicknamed

El Diamante,

who surrendered to the authorities on Sunday after being declared a person of interest in the case, and will remain imprisoned without bail by order of a judge.

A criminal complaint filed by the FBI accuses Verdejo, who is married to another woman, of kidnapping the girl, hitting her in the face and injecting her with a syringe filled with an unidentified substance.

The prosecution alleges that he bound her arms and feet with wire, and tied a heavy brick wall to her before throwing her off a bridge at 8:30 a.m. Thursday and then shooting her.

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Despite the fact that the victim's body was found less than a week after the report of her disappearance, some Puerto Ricans have criticized the fact that, unlike other femicides such as that of the young woman herself burned by her ex-lover, Rodríguez It counted on an unusual deployment of efforts and resources from the Government, and that

the status of the alleged aggressor as a public figure was decisive for the mobilization.

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“It is frustrating that all cases do not receive the same level of media coverage or police resources,” Andrea González-Ramírez, an independent Puerto Rican journalist who has covered the escalation of gender-based violence on the island, told Noticias Telemundo. During the last years.

The Police Commissioner, Antonio López, thanked on Sunday the "more than 200 policemen and all the prosecutors and forensics" who worked tirelessly to find the young woman.  

González-Ramírez says that this titanic operation is not the norm on the island where, according to the local Gender Equity Observatory, some 60 women were killed in 2020 alone.

This figure represented a 62% increase in femicides compared to the previous year.

“Where are those resources for all the other women?

", he questioned.

Puerto Rico has registered an alarming increase in acts of gender-based violence and femicides in recent decades, which were accentuated after the passage of Hurricane María in 2017 and, more recently, with the coronavirus crisis. 

Before Andrea Ruiz Costas and Keishla Rodríguez, there were Rosimar Rodríguez Gómez, Michelle Ramos Vargas, Alexandra Cardona Torrado, Suiliani Calderón Nieves, Marilyn Reyes Ayala, and dozens of other women who have lost their lives after being ignored by the authorities when they asked for protection of a man. 

According to the Domestic Violence Division of the Puerto Rico Police, more than 5,500 women reported having been victims of domestic violence during 2020, although feminist groups believe the figure is much higher.

A bankrupt island with

In recent years, pressure from activists, political figures, and culture have led officials to take more responsibility for this historically ignored problem. 

In January, six days after the discovery of the body of Angie Noemi González, who was found strangled in a ravine, the island declared a 'state of emergency' for femicide.

The order, which includes social and educational aspects, allows the Government to take urgent action and allocate funds to face situations considered borderline.

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One hundred days after the declaration, activists on the island have denounced that the order has meant little in the fight to protect women from sexist violence.

Shouting 'Where is the state of emergency?', Dozens of people took to the streets of San Juan this week to protest the authorities' response.

"The State of Emergency, which has been declared but not implemented,"

complained the Feminist Collective group in a call for demonstrations in La Fortaleza, the same scenario in which in 2019 the Puerto Ricans demanded the resignation of then-Governor Ricardo Roselló.

Pedro Pierluisi, the island's governor, reiterated on Sunday his "commitment to the fight against gender violence and to continue putting action and resources where the word is."

However, Pierlusi revealed that the Fiscal Oversight Board reduced the allocation to address violence against women.

Out of a budget of $ 7 million requested from the Board, the Board stated that it could only allocate $ 200,000.

Puerto Rico's finances are controlled by that entity that responds to the US legislature and whose severe austerity measures have impacted different sectors of the island.

"In addition to the political will and the fact that

femicides were not seen as a priority until very recently

, the island lacks resources. This affects the ability of the authorities to do their job," González-Ramírez said.

Puerto Rico filed for bankruptcy in 2017 in order to restructure its multi-million dollar debt of more than $ 70 billion. 

The island is experiencing a serious economic crisis, with a poverty rate of 45%, unemployment twice the United States average, and a population that is decreasing due to emigration to the continental United States: many are surprised by the fact that there are more Puerto Ricans than they live outside the island (about six million) than those who live inside. 

"Let it be what God wants"

Some Puerto Ricans have also criticized that, as a figure of public interest, the boxer Verdejo has been the focus of attention, rather than the victim.

"The Puerto Rican press does not usually review the disappearances of women," Cristian Serrano, who resides in the Hato Rey neighborhood, about 15 minutes from the Teodoro Moscoso bridge, told Noticias Telemundo, where Rodríguez's body was found.

"Some of us think there has been hypocrisy because the news has focused on him because he is a famous person."

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Serrano is not sure if it is a positive element, but said that "as a result of the Keyshla case they are reviewing in the press disappearances of people for a month and more, which the press did not mention at any time."  

Unlike a score of Latin American and Caribbean countries, in Puerto Rico femicide is not classified as a crime.

The current domestic violence law leaves women who face situations of aggression outside the home unprotected.

Consequently, the Government does not collect statistics that allow a better perception of the problem.

Noticias Telemundo Puerto Rico this Thursday accessed several audio messages that Andrea Ruiz Costas sent to a friend a few days before she was found dead.

In the messages she describes the panic towards her ex-partner and how she felt ignored by the judge when she asked to protect her.

“I feel right now that I have no control of my life, because it doesn't matter what I do: everything depends on him.

How he watches over me, that I cannot receive visitors in my house, "the young woman complained." If I go to someone's house, I have to be aware that they are not following me to know where that person's house is.

Have the keys to my car.

At any moment he can be getting into my car when I am sleeping at night and checking out the car ”.

This is how he described his experience before Judge Sonya Nieves Cordero, and his lack of confidence in the justice system, when he presented the complaint in a hearing by videoconference at the end of March.

“I think she really gave 'no cause' because what she was was jaded.

He had a mask (pouting), "Ruiz Costas is heard saying." She was fighting with us over the video call.

Let it be what God wants, really.

This will serve as a lesson to me ”.

 Meanwhile, Maite Oronoz, the presiding judge of the island's Supreme Court, said that she 

ordered an investigation into why the magistrate denied a protection order

to the young woman when she went to report the mistreatment of her ex-partner.

"We will assume our responsibility without excuses, we will render accounts to the country and we will do everything that corresponds. You have my word," he said. "These femicides are not isolated cases, but the result of a society that normalizes violence against women through attitudes macho and learned behaviors that are cooked from home, work and the community ”.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2021-05-05

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