Francia Márquez: the impulse of a new generation | International

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Francia Márquez, environmental and human rights activist in Puerto Resistencia (Cali) during the protestsCamilo Rozo

Francia Márquez is convinced that her more than 783,000 votes come from young people. “For us it has been the social networks, the tik tokers, the youtubers, the young people,” said the environmental leader who until Sunday night was unknown to half the country. The feminist lawyer is clear that women played an important role so that her project obtained more votes than politicians with well-known surnames and had made her the electoral surprise of the primaries in Colombia.

“One of the disadvantages we had is that most Colombians did not know us, nor did they know that we were on this path. In San Andrés, an eight-year-old boy came to me and told me that he had convinced his parents to vote for me. Mom confirmed it. I asked the boy how he had met me and he said oh, for Tik Tok, ”recalls the woman.

It is not possible to know the age of those who voted for her, but it is possible to see where she obtained support and trace her voice during the 2021 social protests that had as their center a youth movement fed up with traditional politics. An image proves it: in Puerto Rellena, where there was the greatest resistance to the police repression that left at least 46 dead throughout the country, Márquez was one of the few people who could enter the neighborhood without the three policemen who usually escort her. She was respected by the youth. “In the streets there is a generation that has woken up, the generation of dignity. Mine grew up in the middle of the war, but these young people are willing to risk everything for change. They got tired of seeing how the financial sector benefits while they don’t know if one day they eat or not, ”she told this newspaper during the social outbreak.

The artist Tavo Garabato, author of one of the most recognized images of the protests: a raised fist with the word ‘Fuerza Pueblo’, which went viral and was shared freely among the protesters, believes that the social outbreak was decisive for the vote from France. “She spoke of the same demands of the youth that went out to march, of a dignified life. And she is a woman standing (front)”, says the artist who ended up making the campaign poster for free in which she is seen haughty and with the phrase: Always on the side of France Márquez in life, which is a version of a artistic work that proposed never being on the Bolsonaro side of life.

“Like many of us, I didn’t know very well who she was before the strike,” adds the artist who was delighted after listening to her conferences with the philosopher Angela Davis, an icon of the Black Panthers’ struggle in the United States in the seventies. , and who was in Cali with Márquez.

beyond unemployment

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The highest vote for Francia Márquez (in percentage) was obtained in the consulates: 24.2%. She was closely followed by Antioquia (23.9%), a region as large as it is varied and unequal that goes far beyond the economic and urban heart of Medellín; and Chocó (22.9%), on the Pacific coast and with a large Afro-descendant population.

The Andean crown has also done well, but not only or mainly Bogotá (although in the capital it is also comparatively stronger than in other areas). When interpreting these data, it must be borne in mind that these are percentages, affected both by the population size of each region and by the presence or absence of the query in it. Thus, in Bogotá Francia Márquez obtained less than 20% but this meant almost a quarter of a million votes, by far the area that contributed the most to his final sum.

In Antioquia, the fact that less than 500,000 people opted for the consultation of the Historical Pact (compared to the more than one million who did so for the conservative Team for Colombia, headed by a former mayor of Medellín) and the rejection of Gustavo Petro in the department helped make Marquez’s percentage higher.

This map is in any case atypical, and denotes a notable transversality: Márquez maintains a base in its origins of peripheral peasant activism, but reaches urban borders (not only Bogotá: the vast majority of the emigrant population is) normally forbidden for this profile. in a country traditionally governed by elites from the capital or Antioquia.

In contrast, the Caribbean coast seems to be closed to him, at least for now. He also draws attention that in his native Cauca, as well as in Valle, the other two large departments on the Pacific coast, he has not obtained considerable differential support. These regional gaps are among the first that she must fill on her way forward.

In the Valley, where the social outburst was strongest and Petro won in the consultations, they believe that the explanation for that map is not reduced to unemployment, but also to a political gambit by Senator Alexánder López, who put her as a candidate for the Democratic Pole Alternative, which was fractured by internal discussions.

López, who always appears next to Francia Márquez and has known her since she was 15 years old, says that they lacked time for her to become better known in the country. She “she is a great social leader like the ones in the territories. When she manages to connect with the high politics of the country and the Pole makes the decision to promote her, all her wisdom and leadership begin to show, ”says the senator who comes from the world of unions. For him, the key is that she has lived a reality that she shares with a huge percentage of the population: she has been a victim of the conflict and she represents women who have been racialized.

In the absence of the eventual publication of post-election surveys, there are no precise data to complete this picture beyond the geographical, but reasonable assumptions can be made. To the transversality mentioned above, it is worth adding the hypothesis that Márquez received more votes among women (it is a global demographic regularity that female candidates receive more female than male votes) than, among men, something particularly relevant in a referendum whose leader has received harsh criticism for its lack of consideration for feminism.

“Women had a lot of influence on this path. In every place I visited I saw feminist women, who said let’s go from resistance to power”, says Márquez. That is why in the Historical Pact they are waiting to see if Petro will keep his word to put France as her formula for the vice presidency. “Regardless of the place I occupy, my priority is the people. I have no desire to occupy a position, my desire is to achieve a change for this country, that means a collective construction project that we have been building with the Pact”, she answered about what is expected.

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