Fellows Network

María Suárez Toro

Creative Writing Consultancy, Consultant

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

María is a renowned social communicator, journalist, feminist and educator in local, national, regional and international arenas. She is originally from Puerto Rico and has resided in Costa Rica since the 1970s. Maria has had a long activist career in women’s human rights, social justice, and communication.

She is Co-Founder and served as a Producer for FIRE (Feminist International Radio Endeavour). FIRE was one of the first NGOs in Costa Rica to use the Internet for distributing radio shows internationally. As Co-Director of FIRE, she covered women’s perspectives on all issues at the global level, including UN conferences since 1992, ranging from Rio de Janeiro, Vienna, Cairo, Beijing and Durban, to numerous other local, national, and international conferences and events. She currently lives in a fishing community in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, where she helped build her own ecological house deep in the forest (see slide show video, below). María currently runs a creative writing consultancy.

María completed a PhD in Education at La Salle University in Costa Rica which she describes as a life changing experience. Her doctoral dissertation was titled Women: Metamorphosis of a Butterfly Effect, making visible women’s paradigmatic contributions in the sciences, arts, politics, and literature. This dissertation became a musical theater piece, Wings of the Butterfly, as part of an effort to include art in the reactivation of transformative social movements. María has received three awards for her work as Co-Coordinator in Wings of the Butterfly. She also holds an MA in Education from New York State University and a graduate degree in Journalism from the Universidad Federada San Judas Tadeo in Costa Rica.

Previously, María was Professor of Communications at the University of Denver in the USA (1998- 2002) and at the Institute for Further Education of Journalists in Sweden (1995-2000). She also worked as a human rights activist and literacy teacher at the grassroots level in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras in the 1970s and 1980s.

Selected Publications
María wrote Se Vende Lindo Pais (Pretty Country for Sale) in 2001 and, with Costa Rican activist Cristina Zeledon, La Tranca (The Spell) in 2002. Both books focus on the struggle to stop oil exploration in Costa Rica. María also wrote the book Women: Metamorphosis of the Butterfly Effect, based on her PhD dissertation on which the feminist theater production The Labyrinth of the Butterflies is based, below.

Selected Videos
With support from the local community in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, María built her own ecological forest house in 2011. View slides here.

The Labyrinth of the Butterflies / El Laberinto de las Mariposas, a trailer for a feminist theater piece produced by María Suárez Toro and Ailyn Morera Ugalde, 2007-2008

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Updated January 2012.