Juan Carlos Perez, a pioneering Gibraltarian politician, trades unionist and journalist, died suddenly last night. He was 61 years old.
The news was announced by the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party, the party which he founded alongside his close friend and colleague Joe Bossano.
“The whole of the GSLP family is heartbroken,” said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo. “This is a huge loss to us all. Juan Carlos was the best of us. A friend to all of us.”
“A political genius and personally a massive rock of support to all of the GSLP family.”
“For me, he was, above all a friend and mentor and one of the people who most nurtured me in the party.”
“We will all have fond memories of this giant of a man who loved Gibraltar and loved the GSLP.”
RIP friend, comrade, brother, political giant Juan Carlos. You believed in me from the beginning & never let me down. I will miss you always pic.twitter.com/kaXxvpv9Iz
— Fabian Picardo (@FabianPicardo) June 6, 2017
Mr Perez, a trade unionist from the age of 14, was a member of the branch and district committees of the Transport and General Workers Union in Gibraltar.
Before he become involved in frontline politics, he was involved in the battle for parity and the growth of trades unionism in Gibraltar.
Mr Perez was a former government minister in the GSLP administration of 1988 to 1996 and before that had been an Opposition member of the Gibraltar Parliament from 1984 until 2003.
He was currently the editor of The New People weekly newspaper and had just sent this week’s edition to print when he died yesterday evening at the Watergardens headquarters of the GSLP.
The Chairman of the GSLP, Joseph Baldachino, said the party had lost a dear friend.
“We have lost our friend Juan Carlos and the loss is unimaginable,” Mr Baldachino said.
“We will mourn him as a family.”
The founder of the GSLP, the former Chief Minister and current Minister for Economic Development and Trade, Joe Bossano, also expressed his shock at the news of Mr Perez’s death.
“Juan Carlos was like a son to me,” Mr Bossano said.
“Losing him is a huge blow for all of us. The GSLP family is grieving the loss of one of our most important members.”
“Juan Carlos devoted his entire life to defending the working class and he died at work, continuing that life-long endeavour.”
The funeral will take place today at 3pm from St Theresa’s Church.
As news of Mr Perez’s death filtered through the community last night, Gibraltar’s opposition politicians took to social media to express their condolences.
GSD leader Daniel Fetham tweeted:
My condolences to everyone connected with the GSLP on the passing of Juan Carlos Perez. My thoughts with his mother Angeles, sister & family
— Daniel Feetham QC (@dannyfeetham) June 6, 2017
Independent MP Marlene Hassan Nahon also tweeted a message expressing her sadness at the news.
Just heard the sad news that Juan Carlos Perez has suddenly passed away. A good man who will be sorely missed #RIP
— Marlene Hassan Nahon (@MHassanNahon) June 6, 2017
Photos by DM Parody