The former environmental activist has risen up the ranks of the South American country's executive branch.
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Francisca Marquez
Credit: Photo by Sebastian Barros/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Francia Márquez has been leaving her mark on Colombia since she was 13.

The newly elected vice president of the South American country, who made history on June 19 by becoming the first black woman and person to serve in its executive branch, has been making waves since she began protesting against the construction of a dam in her community in the Cauca region when she was just a child.

A single mother of two, Márquez rose to the top of Colombia's political circles after leading one of the most impactful environmental campaigns against illegal gold mining on her ancestral land in La Toma, where she championed a 350-mile march of 80 women to the nation's capital for ten days that resulted in the removal of illegal miners and equipment.

Francia Hernandez
Credit: Photo by LUIS ROBAYO/AFP via Getty Images

Now, she has become the voice of the people as the right-hand woman to Gustavo Petro, a former rebel who has now become the country's first leftist president.

"Thank you brothers and sisters for walking with us all of these months, for believing that it was possible to change Colombia's history," she said in her acceptance speech. "I salute Colombian women, all my sisters, thank you for accompanying me and accompanying Gustavo Petro on this journey."

Francia
Credit: Andres Cardona/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The rise of Márquez represents a new hope for Colombia.

The 40-year-old activist, who was born in the Cauca region of the South American country, grew up sleeping on a dirt floor while facing gender-based violence and immense poverty.

However, she chose to run for the high office because "our governments have turned their backs on the people and on justice, and on peace," she told The New York Times.

Francia
Credit: Andres Cardona/Bloomberg via Getty Images

"I want to salute the Colombian youth who wore our shirts, the children who were cheerfully present in this dream," she continued in her acceptance speech. "The teachers, workers, the disabled community that was also present, the indigenous community who was firm during this journey, the campesino community. To my village, the Afro-descendant community Raisal and Palenquera."

She added, "Brothers and sisters, we've advanced in a very important way. After 214 years, we achieved a government for the people, a government of the people, the callous hand, of the barefoot people, of the nobody's of Colombia."

¡Si se pudo, Chica!