Colombia: 4 Achievments of Francia Márquez’s Visit to Africa

The Colombian vice president Francia Márquez returns from her tour in South Africa, Kenya, and Ethiopia with important achievements in cooperation and diplomacy.

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Photo: TW-FranceMarquezM

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Colombia: 4 conclusiones de la visita de Francia Márquez a África

Francia Márquez finished perhaps the most controversial tour that a Colombian politician has made in recent years. And it is not so much because she travels to several African countries seeking cooperation, but because of the unexpected wave of criticism.

Mainly, the cost of the trip, the people in the entourage and even the budget for the fuel that would be used were questioned. However, the amount of criticism that Márquez received was rarely directed at other senior officials in the coffee country. But beyond the controversies, the visit, that included numerous African countries such as Kenya, South Africa or Ethiopia, is part of a cooperation strategy. All of these together add up to more than 210 million people and an economy of 649 billion dollars, more than half that of Colombia (314 billion).

The trip can be considered a success. Francia Márquez comes out with many agreements and restoring relationships that had historically been forgotten by other Colombian governments. Despite the fact that many consider Africa the continent of the future, with the largest young population and a wealth of minerals and opportunities, Colombia (and Latin America in general) has preferred to turn its gaze. The first Afro vice president of Colombia decided to change this and embarked on a diplomatic tour that sought, on the one hand, to achieve cooperation and diplomatic agreements; but also to reconnect the historical importance of the continent with Colombia.

You can also read: Francia Márquez in Africa: what is the importance of the trip for Colombian interests?

The South American country is the 3rd country with the largest population of Afro people outside the continent. This relationship between Colombia and the dark continent was never valued, and Francia Márquez seeks to reverse this.

South Africa with Commitments

The first stop of the Colombian vice was in the influential South Africa. Here, Márquez reached several agreements on political matters. Mainly, in 3 axes: the participation of South Africa as a guarantor country of the peace negotiations that the Government is carrying out today; the opening of embassies in both countries; and in promoting women's leadership.

Likewise, memorandums of understanding were also signed in terms of increasing trade between the two countries and the promotion of music, art, and dance. In the same way, plans for scholarships and support in student exchanges from both countries will be strengthened, and in the teaching of Spanish and English.

Kenya Views Agreements with Colombia with Optimism

Márquez's next assignment was to the East African region. First she went to Kenya, where she achieved visits with the highest officials and left a great image. The Nation.Africa media  highlighted the positive aspects with which Kenya views Colombia. This country not only sees the possibility of carrying out educational exchanges, cooperation, in health; but also in coffee production.

"Kenya wants to become a major player in the coffee sector, taking inspiration from Colombia's progress in this field," said Vice President Rigathi Gachagua. Likewise, Kenya expressed its interest in strengthening the learning of Spanish. For this, Colombia could be a valuable ally. For their part, Colombians could also benefit from improving English levels.

The Visit to the Free Country of Africa

Finally, the most powerful woman in Colombia arrived in the country that was never colonized in Africa: Ethiopia. Upon arrival, Márquez went to the headquarters of the African Union. Among the fastest achievements secured by Márquez is the beginning of ties to reopen embassies in both countries and to promote Spanish as an international language in the educational system in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia welcomed the intention to reopen an embassy and looks forward to the possible increase in trade, investment, tourism, air routes and technology, as Demeke Mekonnen, the Ethiopian foreign minister, made clear.

Similarly, Márquez met with Sahle-Work Zewde, the first female president of Ethiopia. The meeting between the only African president at present and the first Afro vice president of Colombia left a historical event.

An Appetizer for More

Francia Márquez demonstrated the interest of the African continent with Colombia and all of Latin America. The arrival was always well received and covered by the press of the main media. The newspapers emphasized the opportunities to strengthen South-South cooperation, trade, and educational issues.

Now the most difficult part will come, putting all these signed memorandums into operation. Colombia must get down to work and invest in various fields in order to strengthen ties on the African continent. Only time will tell how many fruits can be obtained from a trip of this importance.

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