Jerónimo Saavedra, the man who was everything, dies

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Jerónimo Saavedra (EFE/Ramón de la Rocha)
Jerónimo Saavedra (EFE/Ramón de la Rocha)

The historic socialist leader Jerónimo Saavedra, former president of the Canary Islands and former minister of Education and Science and Public Administrations, died this Tuesday, the president of the regional Parliament, Astrid Pérez, announced during the plenary session.

First president of the Canary Islands, constant reference for the PSOE since the times of clandestinity, twice minister, deputy and senator, mayor of his hometown, regional Ombudsman, first Spanish politician of the highest level who openly recognized himself as homosexual, Gold Medal of Freemasonry in Spain, respected music lover...

This Tuesday, November 21, Jerónimo Saavedra Acevedo died at the age of 87 in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the man who has been everything on the islands and almost everything in national politics, where throughout his long career he sought all the presidents of the PSOE Government took his advice, from Felipe González, who made him minister twice, to Pedro Sánchez, who had him sitting in the front row at his last campaign rallies in the archipelago.

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Momo, as his friends called him, has said goodbye, the veteran whom all those who have succeeded him in the position of president of the Canary Islands since 1987 have turned to, regardless of the party in which they were active, to help unblock a negotiation or would facilitate an agreement with his disposition (and contacts).Ángel Víctor Torres, his heir for many reasons in the PSOE (general secretary, president, minister), the only socialist who has presided over the Canary Islands Government after his retirement, did not hesitate to call him “ teacher".

And from the Canary Coalition, with which he fought so many times, not only Fernando Clavijo praises him, but there are those who directly recognize him as “one of the best politicians in our history” (Paulino Rivero, another former president).With all the weight Based on his experience, Saavedra continued in active politics until he was 82 years old, the age at which he said goodbye to the position of Common Deputy (2011-18), the only public responsibility that made him renounce his PSOE card, due to legal imperative.

It was on November 14, 2011 when he left the party after decades of militancy to comply with the duty of impartiality that is required of the person who the Parliament of the Canary Islands entrusts with the defense of the interests of the citizen, the Common Deputy. .

His last public service was provided in that autonomous institution, which he revitalized by taking an interest not only in the transversal problems of Canarian society, such as poverty, homelessness or health waiting lists, but also in any case of discrimination that heard, for example, what a well-known social club in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria practiced with the partners of its members... if they were of the same sex.

Born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on July 3, 1936, with a doctorate in Law and a socialist activist since 1972, Saavedra was president of the Canary Islands three times: first in the stage prior to the Statute (1982-83), then in the first legislature with the Parliament of the Canary Islands already constituted (1983-1987) and then in a second term (1991-93)

He did not finish that second term: he lost the presidency on March 31, 1993, when a motion of censure presented by CC was successful, a new party in which many of the island forces that had supported him in 1991 had just joined. Replaced by Manuel Hermoso in the Canary Islands Government, Saavedra was appointed senator by the Parliament of the Canary Islands, but he barely lasted a month in the Upper House, because Felipe González recruited him as Minister of Public Administrations, a portfolio that he directed until June 1995, when he was appointed Minister of Education. In the following decades, he was elected deputy in Congress for Las Palmas, senator again, regional parliamentarian again, president of the PSOE in the islands...

Until 2007, the socialists once again resorted to their pull to recover the Mayor's Office of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in elections that they won by an absolute majority and that opened their last term in an elected position, that of mayor of their city ( 2007-2011). It was presented again in 2011, but was swept away by another absolute majority, this time from the PP. Saavedra continued for a few months at the head of the municipal opposition, until November, when he resigned and accepted to become the Common Deputy at the proposal of the PSOE and CC.

By José María Rodríguez

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