Colombia: an Afro-descendant for vice chairman

Leftist activist Francia Marquez or conservative academic Marelen Castillo? For the first time in its history, Colombia will have an Afro-descendant woman as its vice president, regardless of the winner of the second round on June 19.

France Marquez40, is a running mate of the left-wing senator and former guerrilla Gustavo PetroWhile Marelen Castillo53, is the replacement for the unclassifiable millionaire Rodolfo Hernándezboth tied in voting intentions for Sunday’s vote.

One of the two will succeed the curator Marta Lucia Ramirez (2018-2022) who, after a long political career and a slow change of mentalities, became the the country’s first female vice president.

Although 9.3% of the 50 million Colombians identify as Black, few of them hold positions of power and even fewer women. Only one afrodescendant is now in government and two black congressmen sit among the 300 deputies and senators.

The accession of an Afro-descendant to the vice presidency is “in political, symbolic and cultural terms, very important because Colombia is a country where racism is very strong”says the analyst Cristina Echeverri.

Francia Marquez, the activist

Curly hair, african clothing and raised fist, France Marquez campaigned for “those who are nothing”. “Those whose humanity is not recognized, those whose rights are not recognized in this country, we stand up to change history”explained the feminist and environmentalist in an interview with AFP in March.

born in a poor family from the department of caucasin the southwest of the country, became single mother at 16had to flee his region after death threatshe did housework for a living and had the tenacity to study before entering politics.

environmental defendershe survived a 2019 grenade and gun attack for opposing themining. A year earlier, she had received the gold man pricealso known as Nobel Prize for the Environment.

In the left-wing coalition primaries, Francia Márquez won the second highest number of votes (785,000) behind Gustavo Petro (4.4 million), who immediately chose her as vice president.

she gathers “environmental, ethnic, racial, youth, feminism” it’s her “oxygenates traditional politics”, believes Cristina Echeverri. With his rise, a underlying racism also came to light.

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

Marelen Castillo, the academic

Daughter of a black seamstress mother and white civil servant father, Marelen Castillo was born in a poor neighborhood of cali (South-west). Doctor of Science Education in Florida, UNITED STATESshe was still recently “a complete stranger”as she admits.

But “we complete strangers are the most numerous”enjoy playing with this mother of two in mixed complexion and straight hair. She says that she sent her resume when she learned that Rodolfo Hernandez was looking for “a woman of African descent from the Pacific coast”.

Marelen Castillo also studied biology, chemistry, industrial engineering and, before entering politics, was president of a Catholic educational institution in Bogotá. Although she recognizes herself as being of African descent, she claims to have never been a victim of racism and avoids addressing the subject in her speeches.

During the campaign, she tried to soften the sexist contours by Rodolfo Hernandez that he considers as “ideal” that women ensure the education of their children and carry out housework. “I will be the face that will support women”she counterbalanced.

at the end of this disruptive presidential campaign that swept away traditional parties, the future vice president will have a “critical and relevant role in the exercise of power”valued Diego Lucumispecialist in racial issues at the University of the Andes.

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