Francia Marquez, Colombia’s first Black vice president, promises to tackle inequality.

BOGOT, Colombia (AP) – Colombian voters overcame a long-held aversion to lefties by voting one as their new president, while simultaneously electing the country’s first black vice president.

When former Marxist rebel Gustavo Petro assumes office on August 7, Francia Márquez, his running partner in the second round of elections on Sunday, will be a prominent participant in his government.

Márquez is an environmental activist from La Toma, a small village surrounded by mountains where she initially fought against a hydropower project and then opposed ruthless gold miners who were encroaching on collectively held Afro-Colombian territory.

The lawmaker has received multiple death threats as a result of her environmental efforts and has emerged as a formidable advocate for black Colombians and other underprivileged populations.

“She is unlike anybody else who has served as vice president in Colombia,” said Gimena Sánchez, director for the Andes at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights organisation.

“She comes from a rural location, she comes from a peasant woman’s viewpoint, and she comes from sections of Colombia that have been devastated by the armed war for many years.” “Most Colombian leaders who have held the president have not lived like her,” Sánchez added.

He believes Márquez will be assigned to work on gender problems as well as policies affecting the country’s Afro-Colombian minority.

In many interviews. Petro has suggested establishing a Ministry of Equality, which would be led by Márquez and would work across sectors of the economy to solve problems like as gender inequality and ethnic minority inequities.

Márquez said on Sunday that reducing inequality would be part of her duty as vice president.

“This will be a government for people with calloused hands.” “We are here to promote social justice and to assist women in the abolition of patriarchy,” she stated on stage as she celebrated the election results with hundreds of fans at a famous music venue.

Márquez grew up in a tiny home her family constructed for her and had a daughter when she was 16 years old, whom she raised on her own. Márquez supported her daughter by cleaning homes in the adjacent city of Cali and working in a restaurant while studying law.

He was awarded the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize for his effective efforts to evict gold miners from collectively held Afro-Colombian property near his village.

Márquez ran for president as a candidate for the Polo Democrático party last year, but he was defeated in an interparty consultation in March by Gustavo Petro. Ella, on the other hand, earned 700,000 votes in the primary, defeating most seasoned lawmakers.

Márquez urged rural voters who had suffered from the country’s lengthy armed conflict, as well as youth and women from metropolitan areas, in speeches calling on Colombia to combat racism and gender disparities and ensure the fundamental rights of the poor.

“All of us who work with her now believe in the power of women,” said Vivian Tibaque, a Bogotá neighbourhood activist who helped Márquez’s campaign. “We feel we can protect our rights in the same way that France has fought theirs.”

According to political observers, Marquez aided Petro’s campaign by reaching out to supporters who felt excluded by the political system but did not trust the communist parties that Petro, a former member of a rebel organisation, had long been a part of.

They said that his presence on Petro’s ticket invigorated Afro-Colombian voters throughout the Pacific coast, where Petro won by big majorities on Sunday, although by just three percentage points.

“I don’t believe Petro could have won the presidency without her.” Sanchez explained. “In Colombia, there is a lot of scepticism and suspicion toward the left, partly because most of the left has been armed at some time.”

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