Colombian Vice President Francia Marquez in Suarez, June 19, 2022 (AFP/STR)
Sunday’s presidential election in Colombia is double historic: Gustavo Petro was elected as the country’s first left-wing president, but its vice president, Francia Marquez, also became the first African-American elected vice president.
Curly hair, African dress and raised fist, Francia Marquez called a campaign for “those who are nothing, those whose humanity is not recognized, those whose rights are not recognized in this country.”
Elected on Sunday, in her first victory evening speech, the environmentalist and women’s rights advocate went to “reconcile” the country “with joy and peace.”
“In the midst of our differences, we can build a nation that will move forward, a prosperous one,” the 40-year-old mother said in an interview with Radio Caracol.
She is not the first woman elected to the position of Vice President as she replaces the conservative Marta Lucia Ramirez (2018-2022) appointed before her.
New Colombian President Gustavo Petro (left) and running mate Francia Marquez (right), the first female African-American female vice president, celebrate their victory in Bogota on June 19, 2022, after winning the second round of the presidential election (AFP/Juan Barreto)
Rodolfo Hernandez, the defeated opponent of Petro, was his colleague, Marlene Castillo, of African descent. With a more flushed complexion and straighter hair, she has always carefully avoided addressing the subject of racism in her speeches.
But with the rise of Francia Márquez and her assertive rhetoric, a fundamental racism has emerged in Colombia where 9.3% of its 50 million people identify as Afro-descendant.
Few of them hold positions of power, and even fewer women. Today, the government employs only one woman of African descent and two members of Parliament sit out of the 300 deputies and senators.
Analyst Cristina Echevre told AFP that Ms Marquez’s tenure as vice president “is very important political, symbolic and cultural because Colombia is a very racist country.”
According to her, Francia Márquez “feeds traditional politics with oxygen” and combines “environment, ethnicity, ethnicity, youth and feminism.”
– ‘Peace building’ –
Born to a poor family in Cauca County, in the southwest of the country, she became a single mother at the age of 16, having to flee her area after receiving death threats, doing housework to earn a living, and having the perseverance to study before doing so. way to politics.
Environmentalist crowned Goldman Prize winner, also known as the Nobel Prize for the environment, Francia Marquez survived an armed attack in 2019. She opposed mining in her home region as armed groups fight drug trafficking and income from illegal gold mining.
Francia Marquez, after voting in the Colombian presidential election, in Suarez on June 19, 2022 (AFP/STR)
“It is time to build peace, a peace that includes social justice,” said Ms. Marques. “We wish to build together a country in peace, a dignified country, a country with opportunities, justice.”
And on Sunday evening at the grand ceremony in the performance hall in Bogota to celebrate the victory, Francia Márquez, dressed in her usual fabrics with African motifs, paid tribute to “all those who were killed in this country, all those who disappeared, to all the women of Colombia.”
The left-wing program that this duo is implementing aims to make ambitious transformations, notably halting oil exploration in the face of the climate crisis and raising taxes on the rich to boost the functioning of the state.
“I see myself ruling this country from the most forgotten places (…) from the edges,” she said, noting that the new president had tasked her with leading the new “Ministry of Equality.” which will guarantee the rights of women. Youth, Ethnic Minorities, and LGBTIQ + Population.
“We have taken an important step. We have a government of the people, a government of people walking, a government of nothing. (…) Together, we will reform this nation in joy and peace,” she said, declaring proudly: “I am the first woman of African descent.” Vice President of Colombia.