The Colombian presidential elections have entered their decisive phase with Gustavo Petro as the central, but not exclusive, protagonist of the next election campaign Sunday May 29th.
The left-wing candidate of the Historic Pact was already the favorite in all the polls when Francia Márquez entered his government formula as vice-president. Now, with her, they seem to be stepping forward to enter that Narino Palace and they even celebrate winning the first round.
It is that the character of this environmentally conscious lawyer exudes a charisma and appeal that is not reduced to the field of rhetoric that is so frequently oiled in all candidates, nor to the field of biography which is very strong in her. Her strength lies in the symbolism she is able to mobilize through her mere presence; to be black, mother, farmer and environmentalist.
A biography of struggles
In her 40 years of life, Colombia’s social and economic contradictions have permeated the character of Francia Márquez, who was born in the municipality of La Toma near the Pacific coast of southern Colombia. He was born in a house whereand her mother bore her aloneLike most of his 11 siblings, who all grew up sleeping on a dirt floor.
From an early age he had to work in the fields alongside his studies. His childhood and youth were marked by rural violence, the long inner-Colombian conflict that was just in the In the Cauca region it takes its most tragic edge.
He has been an environmental activist since the age of 13, speaking out strongly against building a dam that would change the course of a river in his area and force his community to evict.
She got pregnant at 16 and went to work gold mines In order to support her son, she later looked for work as a domestic servant.
Eventually he attended law school and started and won a legal campaign prevent large mining companies from moving into their territory.
In 2018 he received the Goldman Environmental Prize – which he received in 2012 from Sofía Gatica from Argentina – and gave a speech in the USA dedicated to the murdered Honduran environmentalist Berta Cáceres, in which he very well synthesizes his vision of the world: ” I grew up in an ancestral land. We know the areas where we have created our culture They are not a gift, they cost our elders many years of work and suffering in the mines and slave settlements. The education in my community is based on values such as solidarity, respect and honesty. That’s what we’re taughtand dignity is priceless that resistance is not permanent. To love and appreciate the territory as a living space, to fight for it and even to risk one’s own life”.
The formula with Petro
The Petro Marquez duo is not the result of a negotiation or an appointment. France took part in the primaries and was defeated by the current presidential candidate, who then asked her to accompany him. still be 757,000 votes They placed it as the country with the third most votes, meaning a political fact.
His I Am Because We Are movement was conceived before August 2020 and is named after a translation of the word “Ubuntu” from the Bantu languages of southern Africa, popularized by Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
According to Hildebrando Vélez, one of the movement’s founders, Márquez’s rapid growth has to do with the coincidence of objective conditions – a general weariness of Colombian society with the ruling elites – and the subjective conditions she encounters as a candidate. “It gave way to other sensibilities that lay outside the political debate. Of course, to the ethnic ones, which have been systematically made invisible, but also to certain ancestral, peasant and indigenous languages that the population feels much closer to,” he explains.
A voice of peace during the outbreak
In this sense it is striking, for example, that in one speech he paid tribute to his “majorities”, which was interpreted as an inclusive language for the cities, although it was a traditional designationfemale lineagein the context of the peasant Cauca.
And, of course, that his role in last year’s social outburst was important in that process, which is more than left 80 killed and 1,200 wounded, and that had as protagonists the southern cities of Cauca. “She’s one of the speakers that was where she needed to be,” says Eliana Nukswe, a Colombian researcher at Conicet who is part of the International Node of Colombia Humana. “Before the outbreak, there was a strike in Buenaventura, Colombia’s main port, which had escorts from Cali. Francia Márquez was one of the references at the forefront of demands in this conflict and then, when things got worse, always went hand in hand with the representation of these peoples, who are called a minority“, he clarifies.
A similar view is held by Hildebrando Vélez, for whom Francia Márquez’s role in this process was key to his political legitimacy today: “Much of the outbreak happened where the Pacific displaced people live. His role was to raise the voice of these young people to those sectors that didn’t understand the depth of politics and wanted to reject their demands. She has convened the National Peace Commission, the House of Representatives and has been looking for pedagogical scenarios so that the voice of the youth can be heard.”