Colombia: Afro-American for Vice President

Left-wing activist Francia Marquez or conservative academic Marilyn Castillo? For the first time in its history, Colombia will have an African-American woman as its vice president, regardless of who wins the second round on June 19.

France Marquis40-year-old, left-wing Senate vice president and former combatant Gustavo PetroWhile Marilyn CastilloThe 53-year-old is an unranked millionaire alternative Rodolfo Hernandezboth of which are restricted in voting intentions in Sunday’s ballot.

One of them will succeed the coordinator Marta Lucia Ramirez (2018-2022) which, after a long political career and a slow change in mentalities, has become First Vice President of the State.

Although 9.3% of 50 million Colombians self-identify as blackFew of them hold positions of power, and even fewer women. one only of African descent He is now in government and two black representatives sit out of the 300 deputies and senators.

Afro-descendants as Vice President “Politically, symbolically and culturally, it is very important because Colombia is a country where racism is very strong”says the analyst Christina Echeverry.

Activist Francia Marquez

Curly hair African outfit fist raised, France Marquis campaigned for “Those who are nothing”. “Those whose humanity has not been recognized, whose rights are not recognized in this country, we rise to change history”The feminist and environmentalist explained in an interview with AFP in March.

Born in poor family who swears Kaokain the southwest of the country, has become Single mother at the age of 16had to flee his area after death threatsHe used to do housework to earn a living and had the perseverance to study before making his way into politics.

environmental advocateShe survived a grenade and gun attack in 2019 to oppose hermining. A year ago, she had received Goldman pricealso known as Nobel Prize for the Environment.

In the primaries of the coalition of the left, Francia Marquez received the second largest number of votes (785,000) behind Gustavo Petro (4.4 million), who immediately chose her as a deputy.

gathering “Environmental, Ethnic, Racial, Youth, Feminist” Which “Feeds traditional politics with oxygen”, Christina Echeveri thinks. With his rise, a latent racism It has also appeared.

Since April, Francia Marquez has been a target of racist comments In media and social networks, according to the University of the Andes Racial Discrimination Observatory.

Marilyn Castillo Academy

The daughter of a black seamstress mother and a white seamstress father, Marilyn Castillo Born in a poor neighborhood Cali (Southwest). He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Sciences in Florida State. United Statewas still recently “totally strange”as she herself admits.

But “We, strangers, are the most numerous”loves to joke this mom of two kids in Combination skin and fine hair. She says she sent her resume when she learned Rodolfo Hernandez was looking for her “A woman of African descent from the Pacific coast”.

Marilyn Castillo also studied biology, chemistry, and industrial engineering and before entering politics, she was the head of a Catholic educational institution in Bogota. Although she considers herself of African descent, she claims to have never been a victim of racism and avoids addressing the topic in her speeches.

During the campaign, I tried to soften macho outline From Rodolfo Hernandez who is considered “ideal” That women ensure children’s education and implementation House work. “I will be the face that will support women”is a balancing act.

at the end of this sabotage presidential campaign That swept the traditional parties, the future vice president will be a “Critical and relevant role in the exercise of power”destined Diego Lucomian expert on ethnic issues at the University of the Andes.

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