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A woman awaits sentencing after hurling racial slurs against the vice president of Colombia

In Colombia, discriminatory acts are punishable by up to three years in prison, although judges have the discretionary power to impose alternative sentences

Vicepresidenta de Colombia Francia Marquez
Vicepresidenta de Colombia Francia Marquez | EFE

April 12, 2023 8:43am

Updated: April 12, 2023 10:27am

A 62-year-old woman from Bogotá is awaiting sentencing after making discriminatory comments about Colombia's first black vice president, Francia Márquez, with racist comments during an anti-government protest last year. She faces up to three years in prison after pleading guilty in court on Tuesday. 

The comments, made by small business owner Luz Fabiola Rubiano, went viral last year after a local news site posted a video of her insulting Márquez. In the video, Rubiano responded to a press question by calling Márquez an "ape" and stating that blacks "rob, attack and kill."

The incident led to an investigation by the prosecutor's office, which accused Rubiano of inciting hatred and damaging the reputation of Márquez and Colombia's Afro-Colombian population. Rubiano has pleaded guilty to the charges and will be sentenced by the judge on May 30.

In Colombia, "discriminatory acts" are punishable by up to three years in prison, although judges have the discretion to impose alternative sentences, such as probation or house arrest.

However, when Colombian cartoonist Julio César González, known as "Matador," drew former President Iván Duque with a pig snout and a tie, he was not penalized for discriminatory acts.

"This poster alludes to the famous image of Obama in 2008, here it said Hope... We use the same color palette... what they want to sell us is the [Obama image], but in reality is [Duque], a pig," commented the artist.

Márquez, who has spoken often about racism in Colombia, became the country's first black vice president last year after helping leftist Gustavo Petro win presidential elections.

Márquez has claimed that racism in Colombia is a legacy of colonialism and slavery. This has given way to her being the target of criticism after videos were released in which she is seen arriving at her residence, in an exclusive sector of Cali (Valle del Cauca), by helicopter.

Márquez arrived at this new home after the Colombian authorities found a device with 7 kilos of explosives on the road that leads to her old family residence in Suárez, in the department of Cauca.

The Colombian Prosecutor's Office determined in that case that they found a bottle, some cables and elements of explosive nature, that did not constitute an explosive device.

On March 21, the vice president also denounced the presence of explosives when she was going to an act of recognition of the State in Chocó. However, the Prosecutor's Office delivered an investigation report and determined that no explosive devices were found.