When I was a girl, to France Marquez Nobody told her that she could be vice president, it was unthinkable that a woman like her, Afro-American and from an area as affected by the armed conflict as Cauca, could even study, much less govern. But she may get it this Sunday, under the promise of fighting for a Colombia in which you finally live “tasty”.

the of Marquezborn in the Cauca town of Suárez in 1981, has been a life of struggles: to study, to survive in one of the “hottest” areas, to support her family after being a teenage mother, to have to be forced to move after the threats received for fighting for his rights and those of his loved ones, and for defending the land where he was born.

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Her aspiration as the leftist’s running mate Gustavo Petro it has put her in the public spotlight and has brought to the surface some of the most despicable racist and misogynistic behavior of a presidential campaign that could take her to a power she never longed for and from which she will seek to make Colombia a fairer country.

After obtaining almost 800,000 votes in the internal consultation that chose the presidential candidate of the leftist coalition Historical Pact -the second highest vote-, Márquez got on the train led by Petro with the desire to lead the left for the first time to Casa Nariño.

Francia Márquez gestures during a campaign rally in Medellín, Colombia, on April 4, 2022. (Joaquín SARMIENTO / AFP).


Márquez has become a political phenomenon and a symbol of the communities traditionally marginalized in Colombian politics and society, opening a gap to the hope of representation and change. Although precisely this element of novelty in the political landscape has also earned him criticism for his political inexperience.

“Many say that I do not have the experience to accompany Gustavo Petro to govern this country and I wonder why their experience did not allow us to live in dignity? Why has your experience kept us subjected to violence for so many years that generated more than eight million victims? Why didn’t your experience make all Colombians live in peace?” he asked the audience at the close of the first round campaign.

Marquez it is clear: “The time has come to heal our country, to reconcile as the Colombian family that we are”. “I didn’t ask to be in politics, but politics got into our lives. That patriarchal, hegemonic, racist and classist Colombia is the politics that we want to transform”, she affirms, knowing that she is very close to becoming vice president.

“I am an Afro-descendant woman who, since she was a child, was imposed the fear of recognizing ourselves as women and as Afro, who was taught to feel ashamed of her skin color, her hair and her history,” says Márquezwhich now seeks to claim its heritage with the dream that in Colombia you can “live tasty”.

To live tasty is not to live lazily; it is to live in dignity, it is to live in peace, it is to live without fear and it is to live with joy. It is that the young people of Colombia have opportunities, that they can live their dreams”, he emphasizes.

Colombian presidential candidate Gustavo Petro greets his vice-presidential candidate, Francia Márquez, at the end of the first round of elections.  (EFE/Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda).
Colombian presidential candidate Gustavo Petro greets his vice-presidential candidate, Francia Márquez, at the end of the first electoral round. (EFE/Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda).


One of the milestones of his long social struggle is the Goldman Environmental Prize, considered the environmental Nobel Prize. The vice-presidential candidate was born in the village of Yolombó in the village of La Toma, in the municipality of Suárez, in the north of the department of Cauca.where mining extraction has made the region a very profitable economic source.

An anguish that he shares with many Colombians, who pay for the sins of an extremely biodiverse and resource-rich land where multinational companies come to do business. Márquez stood up at the age of fifteen: he began his activism to save the Ovejas River and oppose mining, defending his land.

Marelen Castillo and Francia Marquez.  (AFP).
Marelen Castillo and Francia Marquez. (AFP).

Activism led her to a law degree at the University of Santiago de Cali, from where she continued promoting the denunciations against the mining projects in her region of origin, which cost her death threats that forced her to leave.

After a phone call in 2014 in which she was told that it was time to “settle accounts”, Márquez, a mother of two children and a grandmother in her 40s, did not look back and left her native Suárez. “That night I ran out of a meeting to look for my children, we asked for a taxi, they picked us up and we flew to Cali. On the way I only asked that we become invisible, ”he recounts at his rallies.

Colombia's vice-presidential candidate, Francia Márquez, celebrates before candidate Gustavo Petro's speech.  (EFE/Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda).
Colombia’s vice-presidential candidate, Francia Márquez, celebrates before candidate Gustavo Petro’s speech. (EFE/Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda).

His long career in defense of life and land earned him the Goldman Prize in 2018 and, three decades after he mobilized for the first time to defend the Ovejas River, he is on the verge of taking the environmental fight to the Vice Presidency of the Republic.

Márquez brings together the social struggle, feminism, historically marginalized peoples and the “nobodies”whom he continually evokes, the forgotten victims of the armed conflict, and has become a kind of symbol of the “change” that Colombia will have to decide at the polls this Sunday.

“My name is France MarquezI want Gustavo Petro to be my president and I want to be his vice president. We go from resistance to power until dignity becomes customary” are the phrases with which Francia Márquez closes his speeches at the rallies, hoping that Colombia, finally, “lives tasty”.

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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