Francia Márquez made history on Sunday when she was elected Colombia’s first Black vice president.
Márquez’s story has captured the heart of the nation. A former maid and single mother, her hard work, high intellect and strategic thinking have earned her one of the highest positions in government.
“It’s time to move from resistance to power,” Márquez vowed ahead of the election results.
Despite a significant population of Afro-Colombians, the country has maintained a long history of colorism both in and outside the political field. The government estimates that Afro-Colombians make up 10.6% of Colombia’s total population, with 3.4% of the population identifying as indigenous.
Márquez entered politics in 2020. The new vice president did not shy away from her roots during the race for office. Proudly sporting vibrant African prints and bold accessories, her mission was clear…representation.
“I am an Afro-Colombian woman, a single mother of two who gave birth to her first child at the age of 16 and worked in households to pay the bills. But I am also an award-winning environmental activist. And above all, a lawyer who could become Colombia’s first Black vice president,” she said while on the campaign trail.
“Our governments have turned their backs on the people, on justice and on peace,” she added. “If they had done their job properly, I wouldn’t be here.”
Márquez enters the office alongside Gustavo Petro, a former rebel and the country’s first-ever leftist president. Petro is focused on boosting the country’s economy. More than 40% of Colombians live in poverty.
“What we have today is the result of what I call ‘the depletion of the model,'” Petro said in an interview, per The New York Times. “The end result is a brutal poverty.”
Climate change will also be a key priority of the Petro-Márquez administration.
“There is a point of dialogue there,” he said. “Because saving the Amazon rainforest involves some instruments, some programs, that do not exist today, at least not with respect to the United States.”