Epsy Alejandra Campbell Barr, a Black Woman, Becomes Vice-President of Costa Rica

Epsy Alejandra Campbell Barr (Credit: Roberto Carlos Sánchez)
Epsy Alejandra Campbell Barr (Credit: Roberto Carlos Sánchez)

The busiest woman in Costa Rica today (and possibly the hardest working) is the indelible, Epsy Alejandra Campbell Barr, the country´s first Black Vice-President and Secretary of State — a first in all of the Americas.

Born in San Jose in 1963 to Shirley Barr Aird and Luis Campbell Patterson, Campbell Barr is the namesake of her paternal grandmother, Epsy, who migrated to the Caribbean province of Puerto Limon from Jamaica. The fourth of seven siblings, Campbell Barr was virtually born a social activist, ignited by her social observations of her siblings.  Aware of gender dynamics from early on and realizing that a “stereotypical” gendered domestic life was not her “cup of tea,” Campbell Barr was encouraged to participate in sports, study and play instruments by her parents.

Consciously following in the tradition of her Caribbean grandparents—who held firm to their culture and spirituality—Campbell Barr used her early activism to address the social marginalization and racism that existed in Costa Rica against people of African-descent.

Among Afro-Latinas, Epsy Campbell Barr is our Michelle Obama; a Black woman who is gorgeous, articulate, and impeccable in the face of sexism and racism that has taken global proportions as she enters the hierarchical halls of power.  Her love for Afro-descended people is intrinsically part of her sensibility; she will not compromise in her fight for self-representation and equity for Black people in Costa Rica and the region. Costa Rica’s new president, 38 year-old Carlos Alvarado, was astute when he asked Campbell Barr to serve as Secretary of State, as her ability to stand her ground in global economic, social and political conversations (oftentimes grounded in patriarchy) confirms her place as a pioneer of our time.

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The New York Times