The vice-president of Colombia, Afro-Colombian Francia Marquez, is on tour in several African countries, amid controversy and strong criticism from the conservative opposition
"Today opens a fundamental chapter in Colombia 's international relations for South-South cooperation, racial and climate justice, and historic reparations," the Vice President announced on her Twitter account, ahead of her speech. trip "to South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia ".
Strong personality, very anchored on the left, Francia Marquez became at 41 the first black woman vice-president of Colombia with the election in the summer of 2022 of the left opponent Gustavo Petro, of which she was the running mate.
About fifty people will accompany him on his tour.
The stated objective is to strengthen ties with the black continent, in particular on the themes of peace, reconciliation, gender, racial equality and the defense of the environment, explained Ms. Marquez on a national radio.
Announced for several weeks, this trip is strongly criticized by the conservative right, for its supposed cost or its carbon footprint.
Senator Maria Fernanda Cabal, always very virulent against Ms Marquez, thus accused her of "going to party in Africa ". And the right-wing weekly Semana denounced an "expensive safari".
"It's a form of vicious attack. I've been to Europe and the United States before, and nobody looked at how much I had spent," retorted the vice president. "The problem is that it is about Africa" and that they have "a colonial vision which does not allow them to see further". This tour must "strengthen diplomatic relations", while "for many years, Colombia has turned its back on the African continent", and that "the moment is important" to look at it as a "partner", he said. She justified.
"pure and simple racism"
"The subliminal message" of criticism of Ms. Marquez "is that you can go to Europe but not to Africa", commented President Petro, denouncing "pure and simple racism". "Colombia must speak to the whole world, to all of humanity. In our country there are blacks and mulattoes, we also come from Africa. Culture and common interests bring us together," he said. he pleaded.
Ms. Marquez's rise to the top echelons of power in 2022 exposed the hidden racism that persists in Colombia, where nearly 9% of the 50 million people are of African descent.
Born into a poor family in the Cali region, the vice president became a single mother at sixteen, fled her country under death threats, studied law and became a leading environmentalist, winning the Goldman Prize. , known as the Nobel Prize for Ecologists.
She played a key role in President Petro's election and is one of Times magazine's 100 People of the Year for 2022.