BOGOTA – Carlos Gaviria Diaz, a former chief judge of Colombia’s Constitutional Court who made an unsuccessful presidential bid in 2006, died in a Bogota hospital where he was being treated for a lung infection. He was 77.
Sen. Ivan Cepeda, a member of the leftist PDA party, described Gaviria as a great jurist committed to the defense of human rights and as a political leader who worked to build a democratic left in Colombia.
Gaviria was the PDA’s presidential candidate in 2006 against rightist incumbent Alvaro Uribe, who breezed to a second four-year term.
After earning a law degree at the University of Antioquia, Gaviria pursued post-graduate studies at Harvard Law School and spent 30 years as a professor at his alma mater.
Gaviria joined the Constitutional Court in 1993 and served as chief judge from 1996 until he stepped down in 2001 to enter politics.
He surprised the Colombian political world in the 2002 elections by finishing fifth overall among all senatorial candidates to secure a seat in the upper chamber.
As a lawmaker, Gaviria promoted bills to ensure equal rights for women, indigenous people and Afro-Colombians, as well for LGBT individuals.