By Emmanuel Nduka
Francia Márquez, a black female social activist, is the biggest revelation of Colombia’s presidential election campaign.
She is now eyeing the Vice Presidency position, after putting herself in line for the country’s top job.
Márquez, who was little known outside the Afro-Colombian community until this year, caused a sensation when she won the third-largest number of votes of any candidate in national presidential primaries last month.
She polled 785,000 votes to comfortably beat much better-known politicians from traditional parties and gave Colombia’s long-neglected black and Afro-descendant community, estimated to number 4.7mn, a strong voice for the first time in a presidential election.
As in many Latin American nations, politics and government in Colombia have largely been the preserve of long-established families of European or Levantine descent. When Márquez decided to run, her own community did not believe it was possible.
When she decided to run, “They were saying: Francia, you’ve gone mad,” she recalled.
She is now aiming for the vice-presidency as the running mate of Gustavo Petro, the radical Senator who most pollsters tip to win.
If the pair is successful, Márquez would take an additional role heading a new Ministry dedicated to eradicating inequality of race and gender in one of Latin America’s most class-ridden societies.