Who is Francia Márquez, Colombia's first black VP

Colombian Vice President Francia Marquez gestures after voting during the presidential runoff election in Suarez, Cauca department, Colombia, on June 19, 2022. She became the first black person to hold that position.

Photo credit: Photo | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Francia Márquez first became an activist at the age of 13 when construction of a dam by a multinational company threatened her community.
  • At 16, she dropped out of school after becoming a teenage mother. 
  • In 2018, Goldman Environmental Foundation awarded her Goldman Environmental Prize.

Francia Márquez, an environmental activist has been elected Vice President of Colombia.

Ms Márquez was the running mate to Gustavo Petro and together they won the runoff election on Sunday.

Her rise to the executive arm is a show of zeal and resilience.

Ms Márquez, an Afro-Colombian born in Yolombo a village in the Cauca region, first became an activist at the age of 13 when construction of a dam by a multinational company threatened her community.

“As a young woman, Márquez became a local leader who took on the struggle for environmental and ancestral land rights, fighting and beating back incursions into La Toma by multi-national mining companies,” reads her profile on Goldman Environmental Foundation website.

Francia Marquez (L), dances during a campaign rally in Medellin, Colombia, on April 4, 2022. 

Photo credit: Photo | AFP

“She also educated farmers in her region on sustainable agricultural techniques and joined the national Afro-Colombian network to promote Afro-Colombian cultural and land rights.”

At 16, she dropped out of school after becoming a teenage mother. To take care of her child, she worked in a small-scale artisanal gold mining and as a housekeeper.

Later, she resumed learning and has since earned a law degree from Santiago de Cali University.

Illegal mining

In November 2014, she led 80 women in a 350-kilometer march from Cauca Mountains to Bogota to protest illegal gold mining in La Toma to save “their town, river, and people.”

The protest prompted action from the Colombian government.

In December 2014, the government reached an agreement with Ms Márquez and her community to end illegal mining in the village.

And by end of 2016, all the equipment had either been removed or destroyed by Colombian security forces.”

In 2018, Goldman Environmental Foundation awarded her Goldman Environmental Prize, an award bestowed on grassroots environmental activists.

In awarding her, the foundation recognised her as a formidable leader of the Afro-Colombian community who used Afro-Colombian music and dance as key elements of her cultural and political expression.

In a Tweet Tuesday, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Liberia President congratulated her for her achievement.

She said: “She will inspire black women and girls around the world who have their sights set on their countries’ highest leadership positions.”

Ms Marquez joined politics in 2020 and made her ambition clear: "I want to be a candidate for this country. I want the population to be free and dignified. I want our territories to be places of life," she tweeted.



Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.