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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Within a Short Amount of Time, Colombia Will Elect Its Very First Black Female Vice President. Is She Going to Get It?

A hotel in Cali, a large city in Colombia located on the Pacific Coast, had a ballroom that was full with hundreds of people for the lady who was performing in the middle of the stage.

A number of recent months ago, Dr. Castillo, who is 53 years old, served as a senior director at a Catholic private institution in Bogotá, the nation’s capital. Now, she is the running partner of the anti-establishment politician and businessman who surprisingly earned second place in the first round of the nation’s most crucial election in decades. This election is supposed to determine the direction the country will go for the next few decades. In the runoff election, which will take place on Sunday, Colombians will choose between the candidate Rodolfo Hernández and Gustavo Petro, a longstanding senator who is running for president in an effort to become the first Marxist president in the history of the nation.

Ms. Márquez has made social justice and inclusion the core of her platform, speaking about race and class in a way that is rarely discussed in public circles. Dr. Castillo, on the other hand, has kept the focus of her message on improving public education and increasing economic opportunities, particularly for women.

Additionally, she has said that she intends to establish a committee with the purpose of revising the legislation governing higher education in Colombia. She did not provide any details on the alterations that will be made, but she did say that the process of any amendment would include participation. Sandra Carrasquilla, who is 52 years old and lives in Cali and is a fan of Castillo, just began helping for Mr. Hernández. Previously, she had worked on the campaign of the conservative senator Mara Fernanda Cabal. She was primarily attracted to the ticket due to Dr. Castillo’s “amazing” career, as well as his friendliness and message of unity.

Voters in Colombia are getting ready to cast their ballots, and the vastly different campaign platforms of Dr. Castillo and Ms. Márquez reflect the cultural divide that exists in the country. On the one side, people are demanding drastic social change, while on the other side, people are saying that such demands create division at a time when the country needs unity.

The ladies are two of five Afro-Colombians who were nominated as running mates to presidential aspirants. This is a record in Colombia, where the most powerful politicians are mostly white, often educated outside of the country, and related to the most important families. Aurora Vergara, director of the Center for Afrodiasporic Studies at Icesi University in California, said that for many people, seeing two Black women who are so close to the halls of power recasts “the narratives of what is the appropriate place for an Afro-descendant woman.” Vergara was speaking on behalf of the university.

But it has also generated problems about candidates who have sought to exhibit racially varied representation while still avoiding a discourse about racism in Colombia. This is because it has created questions about candidates who have tried to demonstrate racially diverse representation. Ms. Márquez has successfully started a national dialogue about race in a society where the subject of race is usually considered to be taboo. She has done this while campaigning. Whenever she gives a speech in which she urges Colombians to combat the pervasive racism and sexism in the country, she is met by the passionate attendance of hundreds of people.

At the beginning of this month, when Dr. Castillo was holding a campaign event in the community where she had spent her childhood, at least one person remembered her. That person was her cousin Iván Castillo, who was 49 years old and was on his way to the bakery. According to him, he was taken aback when he learned that she was going to become engaged in politics, and he was even more taken aback when he learned that Mr. Hernández would advance to the second round.

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