Colombian vice-presidential candidate Francia Márquez has received at least three threats in the past month following her strong performance in the 13 March primaries which saw her receive the third-highest tally of votes in the country. She was subsequently nominated as the progressive Historic Pact coalition’s candidate for vice-president alongside the presidential challenger Gustavo Petro.
On 4 April, Márquez shared on social media an image of a pamphlet purporting to come from the Black Eagles, an alleged paramilitary group which has repeatedly threatened progressive politicians, human rights defenders, trade unionists, indigenous leaders, social organisations and others. ‘They want to impose the politics of fear in Colombia. But change is unstoppable,’ she tweeted about the threatening pamphlet, which falsely linked her to the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla movement.
Márquez called for guarantees for her own safety and that of other progressive political figures named in the latest threat, including several who have worked with Justice for Colombia. Those named include congress members Iván Cepeda, María José Pizarro, Gustavo Bolívar, Victoria Sandino and Carlos Antonio Lozada, congress members-elect Alirio Uribe, Gloria Flórez, Ariel Ávila and Jahel Quiroga and other high-profile political figures such as Rodrigo ‘Timochenko’ Londoño, leader of the Comunes (formerly FARC) political party and journalist and politician Hollman Morris. It also targeted frontline protesters from last year’s anti-government protests.
Francia Márquez has also been a target for racists on social media and in the press, including the pop singer Marbelle, who has repeatedly used derogatory terms against her, as well as journalists Paola Ochoa and David Ghitis. Senator Roy Barreras has submitted a legal complaint over Marbelle’s violation of antiracism laws. Márquez has also faced abuse from other social media accounts, often anonymously. The University of Los Andes in Bogota has documented more than 100 racially abusive tweets which have gathered thousands of likes and retweets.
The Historic Pact has gathered widespread support in its electoral campaign on a platform of tackling inequality, increasing environmental protection, strengthening human rights and implementing the 2016 peace agreement. However, it faces a strong challenge from the right-wing Team Colombia coalition, behind the candidate Federico Gutiérrez, to win the 29 May election.