Francia Márquez, the first Afro-Colombian vice-president

On 19th June 2022, after a second round of voting, the Colombian people elected their first ever left-wing government, led by Gustavo Petro, with Francia Márquez as vice-president, the first ever Afro-Colombian and only the second woman to hold the position. In this post, we will focus on this trailblazing woman, who studied Law specifically to be prepared to defend the rights of her people, and on the context that led her and her country to this new chapter in their history.

Francia Elena Márquez Mina was born in 1981 in Yolombó, in the Cauca Department on the West coast of Colombia, one of the areas of the country where enslaved populations from Africa have lived since the 17th century. Traditionally in this region, Black slaves were forced to work in gold mining, sugarcane plantations and cattle ranches. To this day, the impact of exploitatative and extractivist practices on peoples, territories and resources in the region are still painfully relevant and have been part of Francia Márquez’s life experience since her earliest formative years, which would lead her to become a committed activist from the age of 17 years old. This life experience remains the basis of her politics, as she makes the move from activism to mainstream politics. Continue reading

Art Nexus

Cambridge University Library is happy to announce its recent subscription to the Colombian magazine Art Nexus.

Recent issue of Art Nexus

Recent issue of Art Nexus (no. 93, June 2014)

Art Nexus was originally published in 1976 as Arte en Colombia. In 1992 it changed its name to Art Nexus in order to raise awareness of Colombian and Latin American art worldwide. The magazine, published quarterly in English and Spanish, is a leading publication on Latin American and Caribbean art, with an emphasis on Colombia. Along with the ArtNexus.com portal, the journal has helped to draw attention to Latin American art and its impact on the global art scene. Continue reading

José María Gutiérrez Alba in Colombia

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Diario ilustrado de viajes por Colombia (S950.a.201.2298)

The UL recently acquired a beautiful book (S950.a.201.2298) that compiles the complete Colombian diaries and paintings of a 19th Century Andalucian poet and dramatist named José María Gutiérrez Alba. The backstory behind these is as fascinating as the diaries themselves.

José María Gutiérrez Alba travelled to Colombia in 1870, ostensibly to work as a bookseller. However, the real purpose of his arrival was to secretly provide information to the Spanish government that might help them to build commercial relations with Colombia. Gutiérrez Alba did not have much success selling books and Spain soon lost interest in his “mission”, but he ended up staying in Colombia for another 13 years, becoming heavily involved with the country’s agriculture and founding the journal El Cachaco.

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Some of Gutiérrez Alba’s diaries and an extract of his writing.

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RIP Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez passed away on April 17th 2014 at the age of 87. He was unquestionably Colombia’s greatest writer – his country’s president even described him after his death as “the greatest Colombian who ever lived” – and one of the most important of all Spanish language (and indeed world) authors. His influence and importance on the Latin American and world stage cannot be overstated, nor the full scope of his work easily summarised. Continue reading