The presidential candidate for the Historical Pact Francia Márquez spoke with LatinAmerican Post about the role of women in Colombian politics.
In the Historical Pact there are two women who belong to historically excluded peoples, since indigenous and black peoples gave birth to freedom for this nation. Photo: TW-FranciaMarquezM
LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández
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LatinAmerican Post: What do you think of the role of women in Colombian politics?
Francia Márquez: It is a necessity. Although we have always been present in the preparation, organization, and planning, those who show their faces and put their faces are men.
I think the rules have to be changed. If women represent 52% of the Colombian population and there is the right to choose and be elected, why don't we have that possibility? It has to do with the structure of the State, which is patriarchal and, in my case, also racist and classist.
If you look at the electoral system, whoever has money is who can participate. From the constitution of 1821, it was defined that those who could form part of the State were white men, lawyers, with money and property. In other words, black people who were in slavery could not participate, and neither could women. This conception of the Nation-State laid the foundations of this racist, classist and patriarchal State that we have today.
Although in law, with the 1991 constitution, the right to participate, to choose, and be elected is recognized, the colonial structure is still present. We are now collecting signatures and that implies having economic resources, it implies having a billion pesos. Where are we going to get them from? We are participating knowing that we have those limitations. In our campaign "I am because we are" we are building a very beautiful thing, articulated with volunteers and without financial resources. We are breaking into traditional and hegemonic politics.
I, without regret, can say that we did not get the signatures. And that does not make us less. The reading could be: "Ah, if you couldn't get the signatures, then you won't be able to either ...". That is not true, at least in our case we do not have the signatures, but today we have a solid movement. Many people, from many places, are willing to transgress and make a change in politics.
LP: There is little visibility of female candidates in the polls. Do you think that machismo is one of the reasons?
FM: Sure it is. Even within the polls, they place people who have not run as candidates, while those of us who have been saying for some time that we are candidates, organizing ourselves, and collecting signatures do not take us into account. There is an intention of exclusion, especially with women. And that is what has historically been done: silence the voices of women, silence the voices of historically impoverished and oppressed peoples. So, placing ourselves in a survey is making us sound. And I am very clear that in this country, the political hegemony is not interested in giving a voice to a woman like me or to women like Arelis Uriana, an indigenous person. In the Historical Pact, there are two women who belong to historically excluded peoples, since indigenous and black peoples gave birth to freedom for this nation. However, they have lived the worst part and suffered the consequences of this neoliberal policy, which they have used as a structure to keep themselves out of exclusion, denial, and silence.
So giving a voice, putting a voice in the faces of indigenous and black women who are competing for the presidency of Colombia today, means that it is a risk for those who have had political hegemony. "Then we better not place them, that people do not even know that they exist."
For example, I have met many people on the street who tell me: "I am going to vote for you, because you look like me because I see myself reflected in you." And this is not good for the political hegemony of this country, for those who have always been in power, because they do not resemble the majority in this country. The majority have faces, they have colors, they have stories in common and it is the history of dispossession, it is the history of the non-guarantee of their basic rights, it is the history of oppression.
LP: What do you think of the women in the current cabinet?
FM: Today we should be happy to say that for the first time in the history of this country we had a female vice president. And one could say that she is like Hillary Clinton, who broke the glass ceiling in the case of Colombia. However, she is a privileged woman who sadly did not put her voice at the service of giving a voice to those of us who have been on our knees, but she simply broke the glass ceiling.
As Angela Davis says: “I am not here to push Hillary Clinton to break the glass ceiling. I am here to accompany the struggle of women who have been on their knees and who are now standing up to push their own demands ”. So, Marta Lucía Ramírez is not an exemplary woman who would inspire one to say: well, she is a woman who managed to get there, and then the others can also get up to walk. No, she has been a woman who assumed herself as part of the political hegemony that precisely has not allowed us to live in dignity in this country.
LP: Do you think Colombians will soon elect a woman as president?
FM: Well, that's why I'm here. That is why I am running for this country to open its eyes, for this country to wake up and for this country to give itself the opportunity to change history. And to change history is to build, it is to change a common history that makes Colombia a better place for everyone, for everyone and everyone. A history that allows us to recover the expropriated dignity in which many Colombians have been, a history that allows our children not to be murdered in the neighborhoods because there are no conditions for them because their humanity does not matter.
That women do not have to lose their handprints working their entire lives and that in the meantime their children continue to be violated. Hopefully, a story that allows men not to continue "aborting" and assume their parental responsibility. Because this country is a country that has been built and sustained by women because machismo and patriarchy in men have not allowed most of them here to assume their responsibility. So today women are questioned or imprisoned when they decide to have an abortion. But what about the millions of men who have aborted their entire lives in this country and who have not assumed their responsibility? Poor women have had to carry the burden of raising sons and daughters alone, who in the worst of places have ended up sustaining the war in this country. Sadly, these black, indigenous, peasant and popular-sector women are the ones who have put their bellies on and the State has used them so that their children end up being part of the war that has sustained political hegemony.