Epsy Campbell Barr made history Sunday night when she was elected as Costa Rica’s first Black female vice president following a landslide victory over her running mate, Carlos Alvarado. The win makes Campbell Barr the first Black woman to hold the office in all of the Americas.
An economist by profession, Campbell Barr said she feels a responsibility not only to her nation’s citizens of color, but to people of African descent throughout Latin America.
“It will be a responsibility not only to represent people of African descent, but to represent all women and men in the country, a country that gives us all the same opportunities,” she said in an interview with Costa Rica Today.
“It would not be the first only in Costa Rica, but in Latin America and eventually, if the president leaves the country, [I would be] the first woman of African descent to assume the presidency of the entire American continent. It’s a big responsibility,” she said.
Named after her Jamaican grandmother, Campbell Barr has been spent her life speaking up for Costa Rica’s Black citizens. In addition to co-founding the Left-leaning Citizens Action Party in 2000, Campbell Barr has also led the Center for Women of African Descent, the Alliance of Leaders of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Black Parliament of the Americas.
UN Women called Campbell Barr’s election “a highlight for Costa Rica and the democratic tradition of its population” and said it will further the cause of “democratic parity of Latin America.”
Sunday’s historic victory places Campbell Barr in the vanguard of a small group of female legislators in her country, which includes Victoria Garrón, Costa Rica’s first female vice president; Thelma Curling, the country’s first Afro-Costa Rican legislator; and Laura Chinchilla, the country’s first female president.