The African roots of Francia Marquez, First Vice President of Afro-Colombia, fueled her political work

Francia Marquez, of Afro-Colombian descent, assumed the position of Vice President of Colombia, following the election of Gustavo Petro, the first left-wing president in the country’s history, triggered a chain of enthusiastic reactions from many Africans. Something that pleases a person whose activism and political life is motivated by belonging to the Afro-descendant community of Colombia (10% of the population). victim society“Structural racism” that you want “elimination”, She said in a victory speech* On June 19, 2022 in the Colombian capital, Bogota.

The new Colombian vice president, who wears her curly hair in a bun and dresses in prints similar to those often worn by women in sub-Saharan Africa, makes no secret of her connection to her African roots. Francia Marquez literally wears Africa. On the day of her victory ticket with Gustavo Pedro, she wore earrings in the form of Colombia, as has often been the case in recent times, especially a brooch representing the African continent.

If the enthusiasm aroused among Africans is disproportionate to the enthusiasm of former US President Barack Obama’s arrival in the White House in 2008, a half-breed Kenyan who became the first African-American to join the job, it is a reminder. . In a tweet, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf praised Francia Marquez, saying she would be an inspiration to “Black women and girls around the world who are striving for the highest office in their country.”

Also reply to the tweet Francia Marques responded to an American academic who stressed the interest in her by people of African descent around the world – in Kenya, Nigeria or even in the US -: “I know that when one of us steps forward somewhere in the world, we all feel a little sense of justice. We are daughters of the same grandfather.”

She was also remembered in 2018 when she was awarded the Goldman Prize (equivalent to the Nobel Prize for environmental activists) for her commitment to conserving La Toma lands and protecting them from illegal mining.And the The ancestors of Francia Marques were deported from Africa in 1636. Originally from Congo, Nigeria or even Mali and converted into slavery, they are originally an Afro-Colombian community called La Toma. Yolombo, the region where Francia Marquez was born, is located north of the municipality of Suárez, in the province of Cauca (the Pacific Coast region, west of the country, is the scene of a civil war and suffers from violence linked to drug trafficking and untapped resources).

Francia Marquez has been fighting for her community since she was thirteen years old and has been involved in mobilizing women of African descent through several civil society organizations. Between 2010 and 2013, she chaired the Yolombo Women’s Association (Association of Mujeres Afrodines in Yolombo). With this organization brought the latest demands to the La Toma community.

40-year-old Francia Marquez embodies a double icon in Colombia and Latin America. Anil Franco, sister of Mariel Franco, the Brazilian activist who was murdered in 2018They fought against police violence against blacks, in her victory. The Colombian vice president is now a banner for the Afro-feminist cause and especially the Afro-Colombians who are marginalized in their country and in the region. During the presidential campaign, in which many candidates of African descent participated, racist attacks and insults multiplied, especially towards Deputy Gustavo Petro who defended him on several occasions. Nothing surprising in a country to me The existence of its first black president, Juan Jose Nieto Gil, has long been concealed.

A 16-year-old single mother, she worked as a housemaid to fund her studies in law, after fleeing with her two sons from her home area where she was threatened due to her activism. In 2019, Francia Marquez survived the assassination. Like many Afro-Colombian women who are committed to defending their community. Colombia, according to Amnesty International, is the country “most dangerous” for human rights defenders. The activist, over the years, became a politician who did not give up pursuing her education. I finally graduated as a lawyer in 2020.

In 2021, the activist sent a letter to Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States, another pioneer on the American continent. She denounced the multiple human rights violations suffered by Afro-Colombians and indigenous peoples in Colombia.

Francia Marquez, who tied her move soybean borke sumos (“I am because”) in the presidential campaign, which she made clear to AFP in March 2022, after her inauguration, that she had stuck to it “Those whose humanity has not been recognized, whose rights are not recognized in this country.” On June 19, it indicated that after 214 years, Colombia was acquiring for the first time a “Government of people who do nothing.” Francia Marquez’s account Establishment of the Ministry of Equality. “I come from a city and region that has been historically forgotten. My job is to secure the rights of these excluded and marginalized lands, to secure the rights of people of African descent and indigenous peoples”she said in Tweet. Not to mention the women. President Petro He will take office on August 7.

*Most of the links in this article are in Spanish or English

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