She has been awarded for her fight against the exploitation of environmental resources in her rural community and claims “love and joy” as the engine of management and reconciliation.
The years-long struggle of the lawyer and activist Francia Márquez to vindicate “the nobody” led her to win the Colombian vice presidency this Sunday after a campaign in which her figure emerged as a great electoral phenomenon that captivated tens of thousands of people from the periphery. citizens who yearned for change.
At 40 years old, this Afro-Colombian leader, born in 1981 in Suárez, a town in the convulsive department of Cauca (southwest), will hold her first public position as vice president after having been the running mate of leftist Gustavo Petro , who won the second round of the presidential elections to the populist Rodolfo Hernández .
“We have advanced in a very important step; after 214 years we achieved a government of the people, a popular government, the government of the people with calloused hands, the government of ordinary people, the government of the nobodies and nobodies of Colombia”, said Márquez in her first speech after the triumph before a crowd that applauded her in a coliseum in Bogotá.
Dressed in colorful costumes and her ease of oratory, Márquez has captivated part of the electorate, especially the young, with her promise to make Colombia a country to “live tasty.”
A life of struggles
Márquez’s has been a life of struggles: to study, to survive in one of the “hottest” areas of the country, to support her family after being a teenage mother, to be forced to move after receiving threats for fighting for her rights and those of her family, and for defending the land in which she was born.
She has also been a victim of the “structural racism” that she wants to end as ruler and that she has suffered more strongly since she got almost 800,000 votes in the internal consultation that chose Petro as the presidential candidate of the Historical Pact and that led to her election as vice-presidential candidate. .
“Let’s go brothers and sisters to reconcile this nation; we go for peace decisively, without fear, with love and joy; we go for dignity, for social justice; we women are going to eradicate the patriarchy of our country; we are going for the rights of the diverse LGBTIQ+ community; We are going for the rights of our mother earth, of the big house, to take care of our big house, to take care of biodiversity, and we are going together to eradicate structural racism, ”she said this morning.
One of the milestones of her long social struggle is the Goldman Environmental Prize , considered the environmental Nobel Prize, since Márquez was born in the village of Yolombó, belonging to Suárez, where mining has made the region a very profitable source economic.
An anguish that she shares with many Colombians is that they pay for the sins of an extremely biodiverse and resource-rich land where multinational companies come to do business, which is why the vice president-elect stood up at the age of fifteen: she began her activism to save the Ovejas River and oppose mining, defending their land.
She, like many social leaders who live in the midst of the conflict, has suffered the ravages of violence and was the victim of an attack in 2019 when she was in a preparatory meeting for dialogues between indigenous people and the Government and was attacked with weapons and grenades.
That is why today she dedicated her electoral victory to the “social leaders who were sadly murdered in this country, to the youth who have been murdered and disappeared, to the women who have been violated and disappeared, to all of them who I know from somewhere They are accompanying us at this historic moment for Colombia.”
“We thank them for having walked the path, for having planted the seeds of resistance and hope,” said Márquez.
A great life challenge
Márquez has become a political phenomenon and a symbol of communities traditionally marginalized in Colombian politics and society, opening a window of hope for representation and change.
However, this element of novelty in the political landscape has also earned him criticism for her inexperience, since many of her opponents consider that she lacks the experience to assume the position.
And it is that in addition, as Petro has said repeatedly, Márquez will also be in charge of leading the Ministry of Equality that the elected president intends to create.
“Many say that I do not have the experience to accompany Petro to govern and I ask myself: why did their experience not allow us to live in dignity? Why didn’t your experience make all Colombians live in peace?”
“Many say that I do not have the experience to accompany Gustavo Petro to govern this country and I wonder why their experience did not allow us to live in dignity? Why has your experience kept us subjected to violence for so many years that generated more than eight million victims? Why didn’t your experience make all Colombians live in peace?” she said last month at the closing of the first round campaign.
Thus, the new vice president of Colombia, the great political phenomenon of these elections, will take office on August 7, replacing Marta Lucía Ramírez with the aim of reclaiming her heritage with the dream that Colombia can “live tasty ”.
“Let’s go with dignity to live tasty,” she expressed, convinced that under the government of Petro Colombia it will be transformed.