Global Politics –
The principle Murky girl to speed for president in Colombia has ignited a lope.
November 22, 2021
Francia Márquez Mina, 39, has defended Murky and Indigenous land rights in Colombia since she used to be a young person. She’s taken on multinational corporations, the manager, and paramilitary groups. It’s a hazardous calling. A fresh Worldwide Gape file found that in 2020, for the 2nd one year in a row, Colombia had the highest series of deaths of environmental activists: 65.
Márquez has survived one assassination strive, fled her dwelling twice, and been subjected to various death threats. She showed us a July 2019 text message that be taught: “Every and each of your collaborators, dusky sons of bitches, are declared a armed forces aim, correct like any people that give protection to you.… You might possibly well possibly possibly also very effectively be going to die.”
Now, Márquez has completed one thing great extra terrible: She’s determined to speed for president.
“Political participation for girls folks like me is no longer uncomplicated, especially when we’re keen to disrupt the attach of abode quo. It is terrible. I concept of it sooner than making this resolution to speed,” she told us. “But defying difficulty is portion of accessing justice and it’s what I basically beget been doing all my life.”
When she launched her procedure to speed for president in mid-August 2020, Márquez had correct spent days consoling the moms of 5 young Murky men who had been focused and killed by paramilitaries. It used to be at that 2nd, Márquez said she determined to eradicate her struggle to Colombia’s most animated stage. She tweeted: “I should always be President of this nation. I need our people to be free and dignified. I need our people with a opinion to freely exist of their cultural fluctuate, for our territories to change into areas of life and for our children to stay with out difficulty of being murdered.”
Márquez is the foremost Murky girl to formally speed for president. And her campaign has resonated among childhood, girls folks, the working class, and Murky and Indigenous voters. Among the six candidates working in the leftist coalition Pacto Histórico, she is polling handiest at the support of the leading progressive candidate and outdated presidential hopeful, Gustavo Petro. The candidate who is accessible in 2nd in the foremost shall be positioned on the vice-presidential tag, in accordance to the Pacto Histórico’s agreement. The success of Márquez’s historical campaign reflects mounting disillusionment with political structures and norms which beget dominated Colombia since its founding.
“Our whole lives we’ve been told that the handiest individuals who can resolve areas of vitality are prosperous, white or mestizo men,” Márquez said. “Now is the time to utter that with out reference to no longer being rich, with out reference to no longer being white, we are able to resolve these areas and change into politics as fashioned.”
The Márquez campaign is fueled by the identical anger because the protests that erupted at some stage in the nation in gradual April. Though the instantaneous catalyst used to be a tax-reform legislation, social unrest had been building for years. Within the nation-say, many were wrathful over the manager’s failure to fulfill the 2016 Peace Accords, which beget been speculated to whole years of combating with insurrection groups. Within the cities, the pandemic exacerbated already stark inequality. And Covid-19 deaths kept rising because the manager fumbled its response. When Colombians took to the streets, police attacked them. A month into the protests, security forces killed bigger than 60 civilians. Over 100 protesters are still missing.
With Colombia’s presidential elections lower than a one year away and the manager’s approval rankings at an all-time low, politicians from at some stage in the political spectrum acknowledge Colombians are traumatic political alternate. But Márquez used to be the handiest candidate who joined the protests day in and day out, which appeals to the childhood with whom she marched.
Márquez grew up in La Toma, a quandary in southwest Colombia with a majority Afro-Colombian inhabitants. Her family and community relied on subsistence agriculture and artisanal mining to outlive generations of executive neglect and marginalization. The folks of La Toma beget a shut relationship with their land, and it used to be keeping it that first led Márquez to political activism.
“As soon as slavery used to be abolished, we were in no map compensated. The slave householders were compensated.… Afro-descendant communities beget the lowest levels of fashioned rights and services. We don’t beget in finding entry to to water, to health. These were territories that were forgotten,” Márquez said in an interview with Democracy Now! in 2018.
Within the early 2000s, as a young person, Márquez fought against a challenge to dam the Ovejas River in southwest Colombia, which would contaminate her situation of birth Yolombó’s handiest offer of spicy water.
“The Ovejas River is a situation of community and subsistence. For us it’s life, and as such, it’s indispensable,” Márquez told us. “All of us broken-all the manner down to utter: ‘We will continue to withstand, due to the it’s the handiest ingredient we know attain.’”
By her 20s, Márquez used to be taking up multinational mining corporations authorized by the Colombian executive to displace her and hundreds of assorted largely Murky Colombians. Márquez and others constructed barricades along the hills leading as a lot as their properties to dam police and armed forces units. Based on Márquez, the manager labeled the organizers resisting the mining company’s plans as subversives “standing in the manner of progress.” Paramilitaries called them guerrilla sympathizers, they usually rapidly started receiving text-message death threats. One night, three men seemed at Márquez’s dwelling at 2 am buying for her. Fortunately, she used to be away.
In December 2010, after a prolonged suitable battle, the Constitutional Court docket dominated in resolve on of Márquez and her community and revoked the mining title. Soon after, Márquez, a single mother of two young childhood, enrolled in legislation college to better situation herself for what she anticipated would be many extra suitable battles.
Fair correct three years later, unauthorized miners from at some stage in Colombia descended upon La Toma. They internet site up unlawful mining sites, contaminating the water broken-down for fishing and spicy. A pair of months after their arrival, in November 2014, Márquez led 80 girls folks on a 10-day, 350-mile march to the capital metropolis of Bogotá. The girls folks protested in the streets for 22 days. The command culminated with the Colombian executive agreeing to intervene and favor the unlawful miners from the land.
Within the shatter, Márquez took refuge in Agua Blanca—an impoverished district in the metropolis of Cali—with heaps of of hundreds of others displaced by battle.
Years of Márquez’s environmental activism catapulted her into the worldwide highlight and made her a aim of every and each paramilitary groups and the manager. In 2018, Márquez won the Goldman Environmental Prize. A one year later, in 2019, Márquez survived an assassination strive while she and different Afro Colombian activists were assembly to discuss a treaty with the Indigenous communities in the Cauca quandary. Márquez said men attacked the neighborhood with grenades and firearms.
Alongside with her presidential speed, Márquez has extra provoked the manager and paramilitary groups. “We beget acquired heaps of of threats from paramilitary groups that articulate they verbalize us a armed forces procedure, due to the we’re adverse to development,” Márquez told us. “What development? Within the name of development, they enslaved my community. Within the name of that development, now we beget lived in impoverished conditions, and that’s the reason now we beget determined to struggle to protect that territory, which infrequently implies striking at risk even life itself.”
Roosbelinda Cárdenas, an anthropology professor at Hampshire College and author of the upcoming e book Raising Two Fists: Struggles for Murky Citizenship in Colombia, when in contrast Márquez to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and different members of the Squad. “Admire the radical girls folks of coloration who beget dared unusual up in the US Congress ‘as equals,’ Francia Márquez’s very presence in Colombia’s presidential elections rattles the attach of abode quo,” she said. “Francia’s candidacy is the seismic shake that now we must eradicate us out of the politics of death that is engulfing us.”
That Márquez, a melancholy, rural, Murky girl is sharing a debate stage on national television with candidates from entrenched and politically seasoned households is already modern. Correct by a campaign tournament, a supporter hugged Márquez and said by tears, “I’m hoping that every your tips continue to be pure and suitable and that you will plod on and placement foot the attach we in some unspecified time in the future hope to stride.”
Moments like that, Márquez said, beget change into fashioned: “I’ve encountered of us on the boulevard, older of us, who verbalize me, ‘I concept I’d die with out seeing a Murky person severely meaning to be president of this nation.’”
Whatever the halt outcome of the election, the environmental activist from La Toma has ignited a lope of girls folks and childhood advocating for alternate. Quiet, as her affect grows, so attain the dangers: She told us that correct “staying alive is a victory.”