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Columbia gets its first Black VP, Environmentalist Francia Marquez to take charge

Columbia gets its first Black VP, Environmentalist Francia Marquez to take charge

Colombia is on a roll to make historic firsts. The nation has elected its first Black vice president in the same year as choosing a leftist as their president. After leftist rebel Gustavo Petro was elected as president on Sunday, his running mate Francia Marquez has been chosen as VP.

Marquez is known for her efforts to save nature in her hometown La Toma, a remote village surrounded by mountains. The environmental activist campaigned against a hydroelectric project at the age of 13. The construction of the dam threatened her community.

She later went against gold miners who invaded Afro-Colombian lands. She has received death threats for her work. She and 80 other women trekked 560 km to the capital city of Bogota to demand the removal of illegal miners from her hometown. She was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2018 for the campaign.

The 40-year-old is known for being a powerful advocate for Black Colombians and other marginalised communities. She is only the second woman to be elected as the VP of Colombia after Marta Lucía Ramírez in 2018.

Gimena Sanchez, the Andes director for the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights group, said that Marquez is completely different from any other Colombian Vice President because she comes from a rural area. "She has the perspective of a Campesino woman. Most politicians in Colombia who have held the presidency have not lived the way she has. She comes from the perspective of areas of Colombia that have been affected by armed conflict for many years".

Marquez is expected to work on gender issues and policies affecting the nation's Afro-Colombian population.

Gustavo Petro, who is set to assume office on August 7, has spoken of creating a Ministry of Equality in several interviews. Once formed, the department will be headed by Marquez. She is likely to work on sectors of the economy with the goal of reducing disparities driven by gender discrimination and sentiments against ethnic minorities.

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TAGS:Colombia new Colombia president new VP of Colombia Francia Marquez first Black VP Colombia Gustavo Petro 
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