Costa Rica’s First Vice President, Epsy Campbell, spoke this week as a guest of honor at the Eighth Biennial Conference of the Jamaican Diaspora in Kingston.
Campbell, the first female vice president of African descent in Latin America, recalled her grandmother’s efforts to provide a better life for her children.
Here’s what she said, per a transcript from Casa Presidencial:
Nearly 100 years ago, she crossed the sea with her father. In Jamaica were her mother and brothers. She was only 10 years old, but she already had the assignment to take care of the domestic chores while her father, a mechanical engineer, worked in the railroad in the Costa Rican Caribbean.
My name is Epsy, like my grandmother, a brave black woman. I never met her, but my father told me beautiful stories and for me, Miss Epsy is one of the central pillars of my life.
My grandmother left early every day to work in the fields and came back at night to do the jobs at home, day after day, day after day. She was the first person to get up and the last to go to bed. She worked tirelessly so that her children and grandchildren would not go through the same difficulties.
Being the first is not easy, and nobody said it would be. But even in the most difficult moments of my political career, I had the memory of my grandmother, of my ancestors, of all those who worked in inhuman conditions, to create for us an easier path.
Since I was a child I understood the power of my voice. That is why I have dedicated my whole life to defend the rights of all, to speak for those who are silent, for those who suffer, for those who are afraid.
During her speech, Vice President Campbell called for building equitable, just and non-discriminatory societies.
“For me, the seed of hope that is beginning to germinate are the younger people who raise their voices bravely, reminding even the oldest people to dream of a world full of opportunities,” she said.
As part of her visit to Jamaica, Campbell met with the Caribbean country’s Security Minister to “discuss the serious situation of illicit drug and arms trafficking between Jamaica and Costa Rica,” according to Casa Presidencial.
She will return to Costa Rica on Tuesday night.