In Latin America, White Latinos continue to dominate politics, despite the number of Afro Latinos throughout the region. Brazil, for instance, has the highest population of Black people after Nigeria, and Afro-Brazilians make up half of the country’s population, yet its Congress is only 4% Black.
Despite racial and gender discrimination and economic barriers, there are some Black women in Latin America who are fighting for important political representation and making history. Read more about these barrier-breaking women.
Epsy Campbell Barr (Costa Rica) became the first Black woman to serve as vice president in any country in the Americas in 2018
The former Vice President of Costa Rica became the first to hold her position in all of the Americas. Before rising to the vice presidency, the economist served in Costa Rica’s Parliament.
Francia Marquez became Colombia’s first Black Vice President in June 2022
When Colombia elected its first leftist president, they also made Marquez the first Black VP in the country. She made waves in the country as an environmentalist who challenged the country’s international mining interests.
Nilma Lino Gomes of Brazil served on the presidential cabinet
Gomes was one of the few Black Brazilians to join the president’s administration, serving as the Minister for Women, Family and Human Rights in 2015-2016. Activists are demanding more representation across the president’s cabinet.
Benedita da Silva became the first Afro-Brazilian governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro
Benedita Souza da Silva Sampaio became the first woman and Afro-Brazilian governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro in 2002. She grew up in the city’s favelas and dedicates her time assisting poor and Afro-Brazilians.
Loria Loria Raquel Dixon Brautigam became the first person of African descent elected to Nicaragua’s National Assembly
Brautigam, who has a nursing background, was elected in 2006 to represent her region in the country’s legislature.
Monica Rey Gutiérrez served on Bolivia’s Legislative Assembly
In 2014, Gutiérrez served on the Chamber of Deputies and introduced legislation to protect the human and civil rights of Afro-Bolivians. Because of her work years prior, Afro-Bolivians became formally recognized in the country’s constitution.
Vilma Reis is campaigning to be a federal legislator in Brazil
Reis is an activist currently campaigning to be on Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies. The National Congress and Chamber of Deputies are like the United States’ Senate and House of Representatives, which make laws for the country. The Brazilian has been outspoken about fighting for racial justice.”“We have built the careers of all the White progressives in this country. Our understanding now is that it is no longer possible to ask us to wait. All of the building of social movements that comes from the streets into the parties would not be possible without us,” she once said.