NewsLatin AmericaThe problem is not the helicopter

The problem is not the helicopter

The problem is not the helicopter

Since her arrival at the vice presidency of Colombia last August, Francia Marquez has faced violence of all kinds, from the suspicions with which she is referred to in the media and social networks to attempted criminal attacks against her, through rumors, false accusations and frequent racist attacks. All of this keeps her constantly held accountable and endlessly explaining to her what no one who has held her position before her has had to explain.

In one of the most recent episodes, the vice president has had to use her social networks to explain the reasons why she is transported in a state helicopter to the house where her family now lives in Dapa, Valle del Cauca. And it is that when the use of this vehicle was learned, the wave of criticism was immediate, in the midst of the outrage over the apparent use of public resources for personal purposes, the underlying question seemed to be: The austere vice president of change traveling in helicopter to your house? In a 23-minute video on his Instagram account, Francia Marquez explains that, after the discovery of an explosive charge on the road to his old house, in Suarez, Cauca, the recommendation of the security teams and President Gustavo Petro was that mobilized by helicopter to safeguard his life and integrity.

Once the reasons were clarified, the commotion was expected to lose strength. No, despite his explanations, the press and the networks insist and captiously delve into the subject. In an interview with Vicky Davila, the vice president is summoned again to rain on the wet of her helicopter flights. In the face of her reiteration, her disgust is remarkable. “De malas” she answers Davila, and this phrase is being used to the unthinkable to freshen up the attack.

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Her detractors exercise against her a political violence based on the robust classist and racist thought of our country. The chapter on the helicopter is one more in an endless sequence of grievances and exhibits the same pattern of previous and future controversies —because, yes, others will come—: accusation, clarification, distracting objection, and racist-class insult. In the exercise of this violence, the vice president is accused time and time again, but she comes out to explain or deny the accusation; things become clear. Then, racism and classism emerge behind the accusation, it is no longer a question of what she did or did not do, it is her manner, her tone of voice, her aesthetics, her weight, her personal life.

The sequence grows in a spiral of markings that calcify in the collective imagination with two objectives. First, to delegitimize the political process of more than twenty years of the vice president, a brave path built from the community, environmental and defense of the territory activism that few social leaders have lived to tell. And, secondly, transmitting an exemplary message for other black women in the political scene: this is what happens to those who dare to occupy a place that does not correspond to them. We live in a country where institutional power is vainly associated with prestige while moving away from its natural function of service to society. In the place of social activism, openly marginalized in Colombia, the figure of France did not seem to bother too much. She was even celebrated. As long as it was an “other” voice, it was fine, but breaking into the institutional framework is something else.

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The vice president, who knows very well what waters she is sailing in, does not hesitate to repeatedly point out the classism and racism behind the accusations. She then throws new darts at her for being “resentful”, for being “full of hatred in her heart”, for “polarizing” this country —apparently, always harmonious before she came to power. Other attacks, less warlike but at the service of the same matrix of political violence-classism-racism, take the friendly tone of a piece of advice asking them to get better advice, to not be so noisy, to be less “picturesque” in their aesthetics, to to be grateful for the “gift” that the Colombians have given her by electing her, to moderate her forms and measure her gestures, to behave, finally, as vice president: colorless, mute, formal and without power.

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They ask the vice president to shut up and she ignores those requests; she knows well that she came to power with an agenda to fulfill. And, although the continuous attacks have broken her to tears, she insists on teaching that it is about classism and racism, not as automaton repetitions, but as necessary reminders of the reason that led her to transition from activism to institutional life: not accommodate herself in power, but to bother a system of administration and control of power that has always made sure to keep those like her on the sidelines. A system that has also exerted epistemic violence against it, that has deformed its “Living tasty” to make believe that it is about luxurious houses, helicopter flights and eccentricities and not the philosophy of the Pacific peoples, whom we recognize the extraordinary value of being able to remain in our territories with full citizen guarantees, without putting one’s body or betting one’s life on actions as simple as going out to visit our relatives.

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