Colombia’s 40-year-old Vice President-elect, Francia Márquez has a stamp of the African Map on her dress. She is the first black Vice President-elect in Colombia’s history. 4.671 million out of 48.258 million Colombians are of African descent according to the 2018 Census.

Human rights activist Francia Marquez, a vice-presidential candidate in Colombia, is pictured on March 25, 2022.

Human rights activist Francia Marquez, a vice-presidential candidate in Colombia, is pictured on March 25, 2022. © Juan Barreto, AFP

  • Francia Elena Márquez Mina is a Colombian human-rights and environmental activist and lawyer, who is the vice president-elect of Colombia.
  • She was born in Yolombó, a village in the Cauca Department.
  • She first became an activist at 13, when construction of a dam threatened her community.
  • Born: December 1, 1981 (age 40 years), Suarez, Colombia
  • Nationality: Colombian
  • Party: Alternative Democratic Pole

On Sunday, Colombians elected their first ever leftist president when Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla, defeated a real estate millionaire in a runoff victory that marked a seismic shift in the South American country long governed by conservatives or moderates.

With Marquez as his running mate, Petro has signalled not just a political break, but also a social one in a country that has historically denied the existence of racism.

What’s more, Marquez – with her brightly printed fabrics and the assertion of her Afro-Colombian roots – has also thrust the Europeanised elitism of Colombia under the spotlight, opening a discussion on racism in a country that overwhelmingly identifies as racially mixed, or Mestizo, sweeping racism under the table.

Marquez’s journey, from young, Black single mother to the country’s vice presidency is an extraordinary story of grit against the odds.