Things That Matter

Costa Rican Officials Find A Body They Believe Could Be That Of Missing Miami Woman

What should have been a fun birthday trip in Costa Rica for 36-year-old Carla Stefaniak has now turned into tragedy for her family. The woman, a Miami resident born in Venezuela, had gone to Costa Rica to celebrate her birthday with her sister-in-law, but when she didn’t arrive home on November 28, and her family got worried.

Carla Stefaniak last spoke to friends and family on November 27.

CREDIT: facebook.com/findingcarla

It was on the day that she dropped off her sister-in-law at the airport. Stefaniak was scheduled to leave the following day. Stefaniak took an Uber from the airport and was reportedly going to do some sightseeing around San Jose, the BBC reports, before she was ultimately dropped back at her Airbnb.

That evening she texted with family and friends and sent an ominous message that left her family feeling worried.

CREDIT: facebook.com/findingcarla

She told them that the power had gone out due to the heavy rain and also called the area where she was staying in as “pretty sketchy.” By this point, Stefaniak had already checked in to her flight, and scheduled an Uber to pick her up and take her to the airport the following day.

According to her family, the Airbnb rental owner and the local security guards claim that they saw Stefaniak “get into an unknown car with her luggage at around 05:00 local time.”

CREDIT: facebook.com/findingcarla

However, her family says that scenario “makes no sense.” Officials there also claim that they didn’t initially investigate the situation because she got into a car willingly.

Costa Rican officials report that they have found a body 200 feet from the Airbnb where Stefaniak had been staying.

CREDIT: facebook.com/findingcarla

The family is currently at the morgue awaiting to see if the body is their daughter.

“For the last four hours they are just there waiting,” family friend and spokesperson Bugra Demirel, told the BBC. “It’s a horrible wait, and every single minute that Costa Rican officials are not showing the body is just a tremendous amount of pain on the family.”

Since the day that Stefaniak was scheduled to arrive home but did not, her family launched a Facebook page for their daughter in which they claim Stefaniak was kidnapped.

Just a couple of days ago they posted: “HOW TO HELP: We are doing everything we can to get the U.S. Department of State: Consular Affairs to utilize their resources to help us bring Carla Stefaniak back home safely! This is what we need to get the FBI more involved and for them to be allowed to utilize their resources!!. WE NEED HELP IN NUMBERS!! If you would like to help please copy the below “Official Statement” and send it to your local congress representative, governor or the state department at email –> ProtocolHelp@state.gov You can also tweet this link –> https://gma.abc/2RziRlj to these twitter addresses and write “Please Help, American Tourist Kidnapped in Costa Rica.”

Demirel told the BBC that while the family is hoping for the best, they understand that the body found could in fact be their daughter.

“Even the best circumstance is really a nightmare scenario — we’re hoping it’s not Carla, but then it’s somebody else’s daughter,” Demirel said. “We’re hoping it’s not Carla based on what we know, but there’s still a lot of possibility that it could be.”

The family also reports on Facebook that they have no updates as of yet. “The wait is so painful but all the love and support for Carla and the family is beyond amazing! We will update everyone as soon as we know! Thank you so much!”


READ: This Woman’s Body Was Found A Week After She Disappeared. Latinos Are Furious Mass Media Didn’t Cover Her Story

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These Women Created A Cookbook That Honors Victims of Mexico’s Violence With Their Favorite Recipes

Things That Matter

These Women Created A Cookbook That Honors Victims of Mexico’s Violence With Their Favorite Recipes

FRANCISCO ROBLES/AFP via Getty Images

Despite a slight change in strategy in combatting the country’s endemic violence, Mexico continues to see a staggering degree of violence plaguing communities. Although the country’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, promised sweeping changes that would help pacify the country – violence has continues to spiral out of control, reaching record levels in 2020.

No where is this more evident than in the communities that have lost dozens or even hundreds of loved ones. Many of these communities have formed search brigades to help try and find their loved ones (or their remains) but they’re also getting creative with the ways in which they work to remember those they’ve lost.

A search brigade publishes a recipe book containing their loved ones’ favorite foods.

A group of women who came together to help locate the remains of their loved ones, have worked together on a new project to help remember their loved ones. Together, they have created Recipes to Remember, a book of favourite dishes of some of the missing. Each dish has the name of the person it was made for and the date they disappeared. It was the idea of Zahara Gómez Lucini, a Spanish-Argentine photographer who has documented the group since 2016.

The women are known as the Rasteadoras, and they’ve literally been digging to uncover graves of Mexico’s missing. Now, they’re finding ways to help remember those who have gone missing. The book is a way to strengthen the community and as one of the mothers told The Financial Times, “the book is a tool for building ties.”

“This recipe book is very important because it’s an exercise in collective memory and that’s very necessary,” says Enrique Olvera, the chef and restaurateur behind Pujol in Mexico City and Cosme in New York and a sponsor of the book. “It enables the Rastreadoras to connect with the memory of their loved ones through food and brings us, the readers, closer … It weaves empathy,” he told the Financial Times.

Many of these women came to know each other as they searched for their missing loved ones.

The women – who are mostly housewives in their 40s and 50s – literally scour the nearby grasslands, deserts, and jungles with shovels in hands hoping to make a discovery.

Their “treasures” are among the more than 82,000 people recorded as having disappeared and not been located in Mexico since 2006, when the government declared a war on drug cartels, unleashing terrible, seemingly unstoppable violence. Notwithstanding Covid-19, 2020 may prove to have been the deadliest year on record. As of November there had been 31,871 murders, compared with a record 34,648 in 2019.

Their stories of loss are heartbreaking.

One of the mothers, Jessica Higuera Torres, speaks of her son Jesús Javier López Higuera, who disappeared in 2018, in the present tense. For the book, she prepared a soup with pork rind because “he loves it — when I was cooking, I felt as though he was by my side.”

On the other hand, Esther Preciado no longer cooks chile ribs, her recipe for her daughter’s father, Vladimir Castro Flores, who has been missing since 2013. “That one’s just for the memories now,” she says.

“You get addicted to searching,” she adds. The 120 or so Rastreadoras have found 68 people, but only about a quarter of those are their missing loved ones. She acknowledges many victims may have got into trouble because they sold or used drugs; others were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Mexico’s missing person problem continues to plague the country.

Since taking office in 2018, the government of President López Obrador has stepped up efforts to locate missing people and identify bodies. It says the number of reported disappearances for 2020 was trending down. But the government acknowledged in November that in 2019, a record 8,804 people had been reported missing and not been found.

According to official data, Mexico has counted 4,092 clandestine graves and exhumed 6,900 bodies since 2006. Sinaloa is notorious as the home of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, once Mexico’s most powerful drug baron, now locked up in a maximum-security jail in the U.S. The city of Los Mochis, where the Rastreadoras are based, is currently in the grip of Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, known as El Chapo Isidro.

The Rastreadoras acknowledge that they’re on their own, turning to the authorities for help is not an option. As shown in the mass disappearance of 43 Mexican students in 2014, which rocked the country, municipal police have a terrible reputation for being infiltrated by cartels. “They won’t help us — they’re the same ones who are involved,” scoffs Reyna Rodríguez Peñuelas, whose son, Eduardo González Rodríguez, disappeared in 2016.

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Marco Rubio Writes Letter Asking For TPS For Venezuelans After Republicans Voted Against It

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Marco Rubio Writes Letter Asking For TPS For Venezuelans After Republicans Voted Against It

Stefanie Reynolds / Getty Images

The Trump administration is letting Temporary Protected Status expire for hundreds of thousands of people. A lot of these people have been here for years and have started families and businesses. Republicans voted against TPS for Venezuelans so Sen. Marco Rubio is now asking Trump to do something about it.

Sen. Marco Rubio wrote a letter to President Trump asking for TPS for Venezuelans.

It is a break from the usual tactic of ignoring TPS needs in Florida by Haitians, Hondurans, and Salvadorans. These people are at risk of losing their TPS after the Trump administration decided to let those protections expire. Venezuelans started fleeing the South American country when the economy started to collapse. Many of them have settled in South Florida.

People immediately started to call Sen. Rubio out for his glaring inaction for years.

Venezuelan nationals have been coming to the U.S. for years to escape the terrifying situation in Venezuela. An economic downfall led to millions of Venezuelans going without food, school, medicine, and other necessities. The crisis was an international fascination as Venezuelans took to the streets and were killed for protesting against their government.

Senate Republicans refused to vote on a bill last year to provide TPS to Venezuelans.

In August 2019, Senate Republicans had the chance to vote on a bill that would have protected Venezuelans living in the U.S. A bill in the Democrat-led House passed but the Senate bill stalled because of Senate Republicans. The failure by the Senate to pass the bill has left Venezuelans vulnerable to deportation back to the country they fled.

“Not this week, I don’t anticipate movement on it,” Rubio told the Miami Herald back then. “I anticipate hopefully getting the administration to do something. That’s what we’ve been working on behind the scenes here, we’ve made a little progress on it. We have 17 votes already scheduled this week, a bunch of nominees, the spending bill, the veto override. The votes this week have already been scheduled.”

During this time, the Trump administration has quietly been deporting Venezuelans back.

Venezuelans nationals have been deported back to President Nicolás Maduro’s brutal regime. With no economic prospects, the deportations are sending people to their deaths as one in three Venezuelans aren’t getting enough food. This is just one of the many issues compounded on the Venezuelan people after years of economic and political turmoil.

Venezuelans are also pointing out how Sen. Rubio waited until after Amy Coney Barrett to fight for TPS.

Senate Republicans recently confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The confirmation was rushed to secure a conservative majority on the court and went against the wish of the American people. A majority of Americans preferred that the Senate wait until after the election.

There are four days left until the elections and every vote matters. Make sure you get out there and make your voice heard.

READ: The RNC Wants You To Think Biden-Harris Policies Are Socialist, These Cuban And Venezuelan-Americans Think Otherwise

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