When Epsy Campbell Barr become the first Black female vice president in Costa Rica on May 8, she also will become the first Black female vice president in all of the Americas. And, it is a milestone she is not taking lightly.
“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,” Campbell Barr told website CRHoy. “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 (on) the entire American continent. It’s a big responsibility,” she continued.
Afro-Costa Rican Javier Barker, who lives in Washington, D.C., said upon her surprising victory, “I did not expect that could happen.” The author of ‘Images of America-Eastland Gardens,’ added, “I did not even know a person of color was running until my niece in Costa Rico called me.”
Campbell Barr is an economist, activist, and legislator who helped found the ruling Citizens’ Action Party in 2000 and served in the legislature for six years (2002–2006 and 2014-2018), ran for vice president (2006), and for president (2010 and 2014). Barr is also the author of several books and articles on economic participation, democracy, sexism, racism, and people of African descent.
Like many African descendents in European and European descendent dominated countries, Campbell has resisted the required reading of racist books in public schools. She resisted, for instance, “Cocorí,” written in 1947 by Joaquín Gutiérrez (see illustrations from the book in Tico Times).
Only about eight percent of the Costa Rican population claim to be mulatto or Black/Afro-Caribbean in a country about the size of West Virginia or Denmark. However, with 4.8 million people, the Central American country has about three million more people than the Mountain State.
Campbell Barr won her historic seat with newly seated president Carlos Alvarado. They won by a large margin against evangelical singer Fabricio Alvarado (no relation) who ran an anti-same-sex-marriage campaign.
Source: CRHoy / Various file