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Juan del Granado

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Juan del Granado


Juan del Granado
Mayor of La Paz, Bolivia (2000-2010)
Personal details
Born 1953
Cochabamba, Bolivia
Nationality Bolivian
Political party Movimiento Sin Miedo
Occupation Attorney, Politician

Juan Fernando del Granado Cosío (26 de marzo de 1953–) is a Bolivian human-rights lawyer and politician, mayor of La Paz (2000–2010) and founder of the Without Fear Movement (Movimiento Sin Miedo, MSM), a progressive political party. He is a relative of Bolivian poet Javier del Granado. His wife, Miriam Marcela Revollo Quiroga, serves as an MSM deputy to the Plurinational Legislative Assembly.

He is known as John the Fearless (“Juan Sin Miedo”) for achieving in 1993 the first-ever successful prosecution of a Latin American dictator in the ordinary courts for crimes committed in office.

Bolivia’s Supreme Court sentenced Gen. Luis García Meza Tejada, the "cocaine dictator," to 30 years in jail without parole or remission for murder, theft, fraud and subverting the constitution. Despite its brevity, Garcia Meza's rule became notorious for its links to the cocaine trade and its use of paramilitary squads run by fascist mercenaries from Italy, Germany, France, Chile and Argentina. At least 50 people died, over 20 disappeared and thousands were arrested, imprisoned and tortured before it fell to a coup by dissident officers in August 1981. The best-known of his foreign aides was the Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, who was extradited to France in 1983, where he died in jail.

As a prosecutor, del Granado was demonstrably fearless in the pursuit of justice, and shrugged off continual death threats.

Biography

Juan del Granado received a law degree at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA) in La Paz. As a law student, he was among the founders of the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR). He directed the Committee Interfacultativo UMSA, a body that defended the university's autonomy during the brutal dictatorship of Col. Hugo Banzer. Despite a climate of harsh political repression, he completed his studies and received his law degree in 1975. He continued his political activities and associations in North Potosi, where from 1975 to 1976 he served as legal counsel to the Catavi and Century XX mining unions, and as a journalist for Radio La Voz del Minero. Toward the end of the corruption- and violence-plagued Banzer dictatorship, del Granado was imprisoned and then exiled. On his return to the city of La Paz, he served as legal counsel to the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB) and several unions and social organizations (1980). Again, he was driven into exile during the brutal "narco-dictatorship" of Gen. Luis García Meza Tejada (1980–81).

In 1984, he began the biggest challenge of his political and professional life, the prosecution in the ordinary courts of former dictator Gen. Luis García Meza Tejada. Del Granado represented Bolivia's labor federation and families of victims. On April 21, 1993 and after 9 years of work, Bolivia’s Supreme Court issued the historic 30-year sentence in the city of Sucre, where it is based. García Meza was found guilty of murder, theft, fraud and subverting the constitution. Sixteen members of his Cabinet and 42 paramilitary and civilian collaborators were tried, eleven in absentia. Six were acquitted and the others were given sentences up to 30 years. President Jaime Paz Zamora said the verdict symbolized the "recovery of the country's dignity and the strengthening of the democratic system." "It is not only a question of punishing those responsible for crimes but of ending political actions based on murder, assault and theft," said del Granado. Gen. Luis García Meza Tejada had staged a coup on July 17, 1980 with the backing of cocaine traffickers, Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and foreign mercenaries, who killed, tortured and persecuted labor and political leaders and journalists. They had overthrown a democratically elected government, dissolved Congress and outlawed political parties.

In 1993, del Granado was elected to Congress for the party Movimiento Bolivia Libre. As a congressman, he served as the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee, where he was a tireless voice in defense of human rights. He also served on the Constitutional Committee, where he called for the enactment of laws which prompted the creation of Bolivia’s Ombudsman, the Constitutional Court and the Judicial Council.

He has been a member of the Andean Commission of Jurists since 1996. He has published several books, analyses and reports on government transparency and has received several awards from human rights institutions and civil society.

In 1999, he founded the Without Fear Movement (Movimiento Sin Miedo), which won the municipal elections of the same year in the city of La Paz, the seat of government and administrative capital. A tireless advocate of accountability and oversight, mayor del Granado cleaned up the city government and fought corruption. He also implemented major projects in the city. In 2004, he cruised to re-election, and his supporters won six of the eleven city council seats.

Sources

Marcela López Levy, Bolivia: the background, the issues, the people p. 63 (2001).

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