France in Colombia

Its name is that of the cradle of the revolution that proclaimed “liberty, equality and fraternity”. His surname, the same as the Nobel Prize for Literature and emblematic figure of his country who introduced us to Latin American magical realism by telling fantastic stories of his people. In a continental scenario characterized by the crisis of political leaders, she represents a new breed of leaders and leaders.

She is the newly elected vice president of Colombia, Francia Márquez, 40, the first Afro-descendant woman to come to power, accompanying Gustavo Petro, the first left-wing leader to become president of her country.

It is a transcendent novelty for the region. And Márquez’s career can be inscribed, as Lorena Arroyo does, in El País de Madrid (6/26), in the trail of other black women on the continent who have reached positions where those who look like them traditionally did not reach.

Francia Márquez, on her Twitter account

In America there has only been one president of African origin: the Haitian Ertha Pascal-Trouillot. It was so provisionally for 11 months between 1990 and 1991. In addition, there are two precedents of Afro-descendant vice presidents: the American Kamala Harris and the Costa Rican Epsy Campbell, who until last May was number two in the Government of Costa Rica and with whom the leader environmentalist met last week. Both posted that meeting on Twitter, with eloquent photos.

Bogota, 6/19. Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez celebrate the victory in the second electoral round that consecrated them as president and vice president of Colombia. Photo: Xinhua/John Paz

Bogota, 6/19. Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez celebrate the victory in the second electoral round that consecrated them as president and vice president of Colombia. Photo: Xinhua/John Paz

For Francia Márquez, the issue is not so much about breaking glass ceilings, a term more associated with white feminism. “I’m not here to break glass ceilings; that’s for women like Hillary Clinton. I come to seek the demands that correspond to us”, she is recalled to have said at a campaign event with peasant women.

Understanding the arrival of Francia Márquez to power, explains Arroyo, also implies understanding Afro feminism, closely linked to a philosophy that puts the collective before the individual and that “puts not only women in the conversation, but all the people who they are read as subordinates,” adds feminist writer Carolina Rodríguez Mayo, from Bogotá, creator of the Manifiesto Cimarrón podcast, where issues of blackness and resistance are addressed.

They are expressive social currents of cultural diversity and deep processes that emerge on the surface and reach political representation.

Francia Márquez, together with Epsy Campbell, on her Twitter account

Francia Márquez, along with Epsy Campbell, on her Twitter account

It is not an ideological phenomenon. And it goes beyond how Petro and Márquez are doing in their government management in a land that is mined on all four sides. It is, one could almost say, a founding political phenomenon, the one that makes the nature of the social contract. That which needs to be renewed, repaired and enriched with all the expressions that no longer fit in the patriarchal, oligarchic and macho format of other times.

It is a belated success, but progress to the end, of Colombian democracy, which exhausted its model of liberal-conservative alternation in force in recent decades to give way to a renewal that is a tributary of the constitutional reform sanctioned 31 years ago and consecrated a broad catalog of rights. “We are the government of the Constitution of ’91” recognizes Petro, the former M19 guerrilla who left behind the armed struggle to join democratic life, was mayor of Bogotá and national senator and now reaches the presidency . A formidable challenge.

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France in Colombia