'Ernestina lost her life in a very cruel way'

This Tuesday, when International Women's Day was celebrated with various events and recognitions, those who called for justice for those women who have died at the hands of their partners were also present.

Such is the case of Ernestina Oropeza, whose family still cannot believe that she is no longer in this world after being stabbed last week by a man with whom she apparently had a relationship. The victim was 48 years old.

Ernestina's relatives said that she was very cheerful and a fighter. Her niece, Ruby Méndez, told this newspaper in an interview that before her aunt had her daughters, she often traveled to the state of Washington to visit them. “When she arrived you saw her and she transferred her happiness to you. She was always very happy,” she recalled.

Once Ernestina had her little ones, they became her entire world. As a single mother she was trying to give them the best she could, Ruby added.

He confessed that he did not know when Ernestina's relationship with Miguel Hernández Toscano, her alleged murderer, began, but in the middle of last year they returned to Washington to visit with the girls.

Ruby said it was her mother who interacted the most with the couple, and apparently Ernestina was happy in the relationship.

"My aunt even told my mom: 'He's a great person, he doesn't drink, he's not vicious, he's very cool,'" she said.

"We never imagined that my aunt would lose her life in such a cruel way for that man."

Palm Springs authorities said Toscano was taken into custody on March 1 around 9:50 pm on charges of stabbing.

The incident happened in the 1700 block of Arenas Road. Ernestina, who was from Oaxaca, Mexico, died at the scene. Today she is survived by her daughters, 9, 8 and 5 years old.

The deceased's brother, Eloy Oropeza, said that he did not feel well enough to speak to the media, but through a message on a fundraising page, he said that his sister was a victim of domestic violence. He described her as a hard-working woman who loved her three daughters and her 88-year-old mother very much.

“My sister loved serving her community. She was an employee of the Agua Caliente casino and served the communities of Palm Springs and the city of Cathedral,” Eloy said on the GoFundMe page.

connecting the dots

Ruby said that after the cruel incident, her mother began to remember that the last time Ernestina and her alleged attacker came to visit, he was very distracted. He did not interact in conversations and did not spend much time with the family.

"My mom said he looked very secluded but they were only with us for about a week," said the young woman.

The organization Salud América, focused on equitable health care for Latinos and other families, indicated that there are several problems and/or beliefs that impact abused Latinas.

These include the cultural role of wife and mother, religious beliefs, the concept of the ideal woman (“marianismo”), and the lack of support and resources in Spanish.

Ruby agrees with this concept and said that in the Latino community it is unfortunate that there is so much machismo and that it is normalized.

"We don't know what her situation was like because we didn't see her and we don't know if she asked for help or not," said her niece. "One has to lose the fear of speaking up at all costs in order to avoid these situations."

In the US, more than 1 in 3, or 34.4%, of Latina women said they had been victims of sexual or physical harassment or violence by an intimate partner, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diseases (CDC) published in 2017.

At the national level, the rate is very similar with 37.3% of women in general. Additionally, 23.2% of women have experienced serious physical violence from an intimate partner at some point in their lives.

Suspect Miguel Hernandez Toscano, 64, appeared at the Riverside County Larson Justice Center on Monday where he pleaded not guilty to one felony count of murder and three counts of intentional child cruelty.

He has a felony resolution conference scheduled for April 15. He remains being held at the John Benoit Detention Center in Riverside County on $1 million bond.

Find help resources

In an event to present the week of Action and Comprehensive Protection for Women, the consul general of the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles said yesterday that they are offering services to provide information and resources to women.

"At the consulate we not only give license plates and passports, we already saw it in the pandemic, we almost became a hospital by having a covid-19 center and a vaccination center," the consul said during a press conference.

From March 8 to 12, the consulate will offer women a series of virtual workshops, as well as in-person resources, on legal assistance, psychological therapy and information on shelters for victims of domestic violence, among others. For information visit HERE

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