Wednesday, September 27

Francia Márquez and the revolution of the nobodies

A black, feminist, anti-racist and environmentalist woman shakes the Colombian political class. Francia Márquez Mina, a social leader from Cauca, is today the third most voted candidate in the inter-party consultations to choose the country’s presidential candidates. She came second in the consultation of the political movement “Historic Pact”, in which Gustavo Petro won and got even more votes than the winning candidates of other parties.

France has been a leader in her community, has stood up to extractive companies, legal and illegal mining, even under threats from paramilitary groups, and her struggle earned her the Goldman Prize in 2018, which is the most important recognition in the world for work of environmental leaders, is like an Oscar for the environment.

She herself recounts that she got tired of working and not seeing changes for the country. That, contrary to what is said, those affected are not minorities but an immense impoverished majority at the expense of the families that have governed Colombia and that is why they have wanted to represent them: the women, the ethnic peoples, the peasants, the community LGTBIQ, the youth who for demanding free education are murdered and branded a vandal and a terrorist, the working class that continues to bet on a better country. Those people she calls “the nobody”, yes, those same ones that Galeano spoke of, those that she represents, because she got tired of waiting for them to speak and went to take it, as it should be.

What France is doing is highly transgressive in a country where only 12% of mayors are held by women, power has always been in the hands of a predominantly white political and economic elite, and it is the place in the world where the most social and environmental activists are murdered. She is a female head of a family, a victim of the armed conflict who has survived attempts on her life for doing human rights activism and who was able to put such necessary issues as racism and structural machismo in the presidential public debate for the first time .

France speaks to him and represents the invisible Colombia; to people who are not white, like her; to people who come from impoverished areas, like her; to the victims of the armed conflict, like her; to the women who, being very young mothers, have had to raise and care for their daughters alone, like her; to those who put their bodies and lives defending human rights, like her. France speaks to the disregarded people, to those who have been deprived of rights, to the “nobodies” who voted for it and to those who did not, and makes a political revolution that rewrites the history of Colombia and from that, there is no return.

The joy is even greater when these “nobodies” take power. Well, while the inter-party consultations were held, the new Colombian congress was elected, which was attended by, among others, an indigenous leader and an Afro-descendant leader. They are Aida Quilcue, from the Nasa indigenous community of Tierradentro Cauca and belonging to the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca –CRIC–, (from the same region and organization of the Indigenous Guard that I had told you about a few months ago). She has fought incessantly to improve the living conditions of the communities in her territory, for her to end the war and for the active defense of the rights of indigenous peoples. Her work has caused all kinds of attacks and persecution, in 2008 her husband was killed by the Colombian military forces. It has not been easy for her. For all this, in 2021 she received the National Human Rights Award for a lifetime in defense of the indigenous movement in Colombia.

There is also Cha Dorina Hernández, who becomes the first palenquera woman to reach Congress; She is a native of San Basilio de Palenque, the first free town in America, founded by African people who escaped from slavery. She is an ethno-educator, community leader and cultural manager, who from Congress hopes to continue working for Afro communities, women, rural communities, youth and the working class.

This deserves to be told, this political and social awakening, this wonderful democratic mobilization. Galeano said: “nobodies dream of getting out of poverty, that some magical day good luck suddenly rains, that good luck rains buckets”. I want to think that it is starting to rain, that the “nobodies” are getting it, not only that good luck rains, but that their revolution begins.