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For the first time in Colombia’s history, a Black woman is close to the top of the executive branch.
Francia Márquez, an environmental activist from the mountainous department of Cauca in southwestern Colombia, has become a national phenomenon, mobilizing decades of voter frustration, and becoming the country’s first Black vice president on Sunday, as the running mate to Gustavo Petro.
The Petro-Márquez ticket won Sunday’s runoff election, according to preliminary results. Mr. Petro, a former rebel and longtime legislator, will become the country’s first leftist president.
The rise of Ms. Márquez is significant not only because she is Black in a nation where Afro-Colombians are regularly subject to racism and must contend with structural barriers, but because she comes from poverty in a country where economic class so often defines a person’s place in society. Most recent former presidents were educated abroad and are connected to the country’s powerful families and kingmakers.