Costa Rica went through some shit during their 2018 general election earlier this year—the conservative party Partido Restauración Nacional (National Restoration Party) literally ran on an anti-LGBTQ platform and took home the first round of elections—but justice prevailed, and the Partido de Acción Ciudadana (Citizenship Action Party) won the presidential election. This is wonderful, history-making news for a number of reasons, one being that Epsy Campbell, the Vice President-Elect of Costa Rica, has become the first black woman to ever achieve the title...in all of Latin America. She sat down with Latino USA to discuss Afro-Latinidad and a myriad of other important topics, and it’s so damn inspiring.
“I believe that all of one’s political life is marked by one’s identity. I have always claimed my identity as an Afro-Costa Rican woman in the political work I have done in this country. You look at public policy as an opportunity to create wellness, and also as an opportunity to look at different human groups, and different sectors of the population: the 50% of the population that I’m a part of which is women, Afro-descendant communities too, and so that political and economic agenda does become impacted.”
On Afro-Latinx identity, and how it influences her political identity:
“Before being a politician or incorporated into my own political party, I had a long history as a social activist for human rights, for the human rights of women, for the human rights of Afro-descendant peoples, of rural sectors. So I enter the political life with an agenda, and I enter with an agenda in a political party that poses environmental, social, and cultural challenges. Like a 21st century party, it intends to make important changes in the country. In my political life, I consider that we have to delve into those issues related to the productive and economic development of our countries and to see evidently Afro-descendent, indigenous and rural populations as a fundamental focus.”
“It is [about] overcoming, it is placing proposals next to realities that have to be overcome and I have understood that every time the Costa Rican population, just like the Latin American population, understands more that the impact of racism, sexism, discrimination, not only has unacceptable human costs, but also has an economic cost, because the economic growth of our societies would be much greater if women participate in equal conditions, if Afro-descendant peoples are also doing so, there is an economic risk. And an economic cost of discrimination in addition to, as I said, unacceptable human costs. But walking in opportunities like this allows the whole country, allows the region, to put these issues back on the table as relevant issues, to guarantee inclusive democracies in this, my own country in which I live, which I am absolutely grateful and proud of—understanding the challenges that we have in the entire Latin American region where we have many unsolved human rights issues.”