Francia Márquez: What was the first social struggle of the new vice president of Colombia (and how did she win it)?

tomorrow when Gustavo Petro take office as president of Colombia, a new milestone will materialize. Not only will the management of the first left-wing president to govern the nation begin; at the same time, France Marquez She will become the first Afro-Colombian vice president.

LOOK: Gustavo Petro: the guerrilla past of the new president of Colombia

In it, different struggles converge that have made it the favorite of millions of Colombians. Márquez, who worked as a domestic worker, is a single mother and a feminist, a combo that caught the attention of the Colombian electorate.

“The time has come to go from resistance to power!”, he shouted in Cali during the campaign.

Due to its importance in the history of Colombiahere we remember what its history is.

-The beginnings-

The first female vice president of Colombia was Martha Lucia Ramirezwho will leave office tomorrow. In her replacement, Francia Márquez, a 40-year-old woman who speaks about the system’s discrimination against Afro-descendants like her, will take over.. Sexual rights are also on his agenda.

In fact, as the BBC noted, she is expected to lead the Ministry of Equalitywhich would be created in the management of Petro.

How did he get to where he is now?

Márquez is from La Toma, north of the Caucaan area known for artisanal and illegal gold mines and the terrible passage of the armed conflict. At 16, she as a single mother and, through hard work and sacrifice, she trained in agricultural techniques and studied law.

It was her work as a miner that made her stand out.

When she was 15 years old, the government tried to divert the Sheep river bedwhere she and her neighbors worked, to benefit large companies that already had property titles. Márquez mobilized the community and managed to get the state to back down.

We are descendants of African slaves. We live from artisanal mining and agriculture”, .

File photo.  The candidate for the vice presidency of Colombia for the coalition Historical Pact, Francia Márquez, casts her vote at a polling station in Suárez, department of Cauca, Colombia, during the presidential elections.
File photo. The candidate for the vice presidency of Colombia for the coalition Historical Pact, Francia Márquez, casts her vote at a polling station in Suárez, department of Cauca, Colombia, during the presidential elections. / Raúl ARBOLEDA / AFP

She would later confess that this was the first time she heard that she and her family had rights. “Collective rights to be defined in terms of what we wanted for our territory and what we wanted in terms of our development”, .

The fight, however, did not end.

In 2009, the State accused his community of the crime of being “bad faith disturber”; that is, they went from “being ancestral possessors of a territory to being criminals”.

Márquez understood that, to defend himself from abuse, he had to study law and so he did.

Of course, he needed help from other organizations that, happily, joined the cause. The result: the Constitutional court recognized that it was an ancestral territory and suspended any work that put them in danger.

-Road to the capital-

That was not the end, especially when France Marquez He started receiving threats. The enemy was no longer the State but the illegal miners and some paramilitaries.

The water we consume from those rivers is poisoned and we have no way of treating it […]. It means we don’t know how much mercury we have in our blood where we don’t even have access to proper health. It means that the food that we are going to be producing in the community is also going to be contaminated.”.

Márquez proposed to march towards Bogota and convinced several women to claim their rights in the same capital. After walking 350 kilometers in ten days, 130 women and young people arrived.

The protest lasted 22 days.

We were declared to be a threat to national security. We told the government that if they did not protect our house we were going to stay there and that if we died it would be in the face of the whole world”.

The BBC recalls:

As a direct result of Márquez’s initiatives, illegal mining operations in La Toma ceased. The government created a special body to investigate illegal mining. By the end of 2016, all machinery around the Ovejas River was physically removed or destroyed by Colombian security forces.”.

Francia Márquez had become a leader.

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