Above Photo: Francia Marquez. Bill Hackwell.
Colombia – The Vice President of Colombia, Francia Márquez, symbolically took office in her homeland, in the department of Cauca, where she announced that this week the creation of the Ministry of Equality, which she herself will lead, will be filed in Congress.
The formation of this new portfolio will be made to “take on the greatest challenge that Colombia has: inequality”, in the words of the vice-president.
In this sense, “the agreement was to create a Ministry of Equality, and this project will be submitted to the Congress this week” and they hope it will be approved urgently”.
In the municipality of Suarez (Cauca), the vice president also celebrated being “the first Afro-descendant woman vice president of Colombia and the second Afro-descendant woman vice president in Latin America (…), a daughter of this people”.
“For me this possession is not symbolic, it is a mandate of the people. Being the first Afro-descendant woman to reach the vice presidency of Colombia, I have a great responsibility to women, equality, total peace and dignity”, she maintained.
In another part of her speech, Márquez informed that President Gustavo Petro gave her his first task, to be in charge of guaranteeing to bring water to the Colombian Pacific. “Our first commitment is to make sure that the conditions of these aqueducts advance and that they are not left stranded,” said the vice president.
Márquez went to her hometown, Suárez Cauca, where she was the subject of a symbolic possession by the Afro communities to the sound of the snail, with flowers, fruits, coffee beans, cocoa and corn, as a blessing from mother earth.
Amidst chants and drums emitting African rhythms, the Vice President entered the coliseum to take office in a symbolic and ancestral ceremony. The official entered the place wearing her traditional braided hairstyle, a printed suit and barefoot, to feel her territory, this was the way Cauca blessed Francia Márquez and her four-year term in power.
“Today is a very special day for me, to be here in my municipality receiving so much affection, so much love,” said Márquez as she arrived at the atrium where the inauguration took place.
First spoke the governor of Cauca, Elías Larrahondo Carabalí, who said he is proud of the vice president and called her a “world reference”. He mentioned that he is sure that she will work for the communities of the Pacific and proceeded to present her with the Cauca coat of arms, but not before inviting the community to support Márquez in her work.
“For me it is an honor to present her with the shield of the department of Cauca, which highlights her national leadership in defense of life. Vice President Francia Marquez here we are, count on us, because we have the responsibility to accompany you, if you do well, Cauca will do well,” said Larrahondo.
The vice president took her place in a circle they called “the sacred place” and the music continued to play. “I am from there, from Africa, and if I am not from there, my ancestors are from there,” they sang.
Members of the community, among them peasant, Afro and indigenous leaders, approached the circle and left food as an offering. At the end of the circle were flowers, fruits, coffee beans, cocoa and corn. Salt was also scattered around.
At the end, Marquez raised a carved wooden baton. Once the ritual was over, it was reported that the vice president had already been blessed by her community.
With the ritual consummated, Marquez proceeded to address the community. She assured that both she and President Gustavo Petro “will not have it easy,” but that despite that she is focused on working for the venerable communities.
“The first government of the people is not going to have it easy, but we hope to count on all of you to move Colombia forward, to move Cauca forward, to move the Colombian Pacific forward,” said Marquez.
“The agreement was to create a Ministry of Equality, and that bill will be filed in Congress this week,” said the Vice President, who in turn hopes that it will be approved in the Colombian Parliament as agreed. “I am going to work for the equality of women in Colombia”, said Francia Márquez.
This ministry, which has not previously existed, was one of Francia Márquez’s commitments in the middle of the presidential campaign. Through this portfolio is intended to achieve wage equality between men and women; recognize the time of work at home valid for the pension and living income and half a minimum wage to the mother head of household.