Epsy Alejandra Campbell Barr, the new vice president of Costa Rica, upstaged President-Elect Carlos Alvarado Quesada on Sunday, because she made history as the country’s first Afro-Latina vice president. Not only did she make Costa Rican history, but she is the first Black female vice president in all of Latin American history. Go sis! (Or should I say, “Ir, Hermana!”)
Don’t say, “It’s 2018, how can she be the first?” Look around Latin America in general. Black people are uber underrepresented, so for this Central American country, this is big news that needs to be shared and celebrated.
In an interview on Sunday with CRHov.com before the results of the election were final, the 54-year-old expressed how her history-making would push the boundaries even farther.
“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 in the entire American continent. It’s a big responsibility,” Barr said.
So who is she?
According to Q Costa Rica, Barr’s paternal grandmother migrated from Jamaica to Costa Rica. Barr is also named after her. Born in San José, Costa Rica, on July 4, 1963, she is the fourth child of a family of five daughters and two sons. She is married and has two daughters, Narda and Tanisha.
As a long-time politician, Barr has placed fellow Afro-Latinos at the center of her political concerns. She has been the head of 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.
And in 2015, Campbell called out racism in a book that is required reading for Costa Rica’s public schools. Entitled “Cocori” by Joaquin Gutierrez, a Caribbean boy is sent on an adventure through the jungle to find a pet monkey for a white girl. The book’s illustrations and the message are disturbing, and because Barr pointed this out, the country put a halt to a musical that was in development.
And while campaigning, Barr wanted Afro-Costa Ricans to know that she was “proudly” one of them and urged them to vote “for an inclusive Costa Rica, a Costa Rica where we have a place.”
So, Barr is the real deal, and because of this, I am ecstatic that she became the first.
I can’t help but think about Amara La Negra, the starlet of Love & Hip Hop: Miami who brought light to the under-representation of Afro-Latinas to a grand stage. Can someone please alert her to this news? For me, she contributed to us all being more hyper aware of our fellow Black sistren in Latin America.
Renese spends her early mornings writing, her days securing insurance for TV shows, and her in-betweens blogging about the silliness and seriousness of life on her blog.
Follow Renese on Twitter: @reneseford