Socialist Jeronimo Saavedra, the first president of the Canary Islands, dead at age 87

November 22, 2023

Jeronimo Saavedra, the former socialist president of the Canary Islands, who also served as a top government minister, passed away on Tuesday, according to Canariasahora.

He is reported to have died from natural causes at the age of 87 in his home in Vegueta, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Saavedra's death was formally announced during a session of parliament by the autonomous Spanish territory's legislative body's president, Astrid Perez.

First president of the autonomous region

According to Canarias7, Saavedra was born in 1936 and obtained a doctorate in law from the University of Madrid but instead chose to pursue a career in politics.

In addition to serving two terms as the autonomous island chain's president, he also served stints as the Minister of Democracy, Minister of Public Administration, Minister of Education, and as mayor of his hometown of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

El Pais reported that Saavedra joined the socialist party of the Canary Islands in 1972, known as the PSOE, and rose to become the party secretary after just five years.

In 1983, after the PSOE won an electoral majority, a deal was struck with the opposition and Saavedra was inaugurated as the first president. He actually won re-election in 1987 but was ousted in another deal, only to return to the presidency once more in 1991 until his party was pushed out of power in 1993.

Throughout the remainder of the 1990s and 2000s, he would serve in various ministerial roles as well as in the Senate, but he gave up national politics and was successfully elected to serve one term as mayor of Las Palmas in 2007, after which he was named as a Deputy of the Common in 2011, a post he held until he retired from public life in 2018.

Condolences offered

Current Canary Islands President Fernando Clavijo said of Saavedra's death, "I have received the sad news of the death of President Jerónimo Saavedra. Away from political differences, all my gratitude because this #Canarias today is also yours. My deepest condolences to his family and to Canarian socialism."

He was joined in offering condolences by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who tweeted, "Jerónimo Saavedra has left us. Exemplary socialist. Always committed to Spain, the Canary Islands and @PSOE."

"Always generous. He shared his good humor, his intelligence and his vast culture with those of us who were lucky enough to be his friends. I will miss you," the prime minister added.

A revered "political and historical figure"

President of the Parliament Gustavo Matos said, "In the middle of the @parcan plenary session I received the devastating news that Jeronimo Saavedra has passed away."

"A teacher, a brother, a companion, a friend. A reference of dignity, coexistence and commitment to freedom," he added. "The Canary Islands would not be understood without him. It is up to us to take care of his legacy. Rest in peace."

Saavedra's PSOE party posted with respect to the death of their former leader, "Sad day for #Canarias. Jerónimo Saavedra, a political and historical figure of this land, has died. His fight for freedom, his defense of democracy, his progressive commitment. We just have to say THANK YOU, partner."

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