The former mayor of Montevideo, Mariano Arana, passed away this Sunday, June 4, at the age of 90, leaving a deep sorrow for the Broad Front and an unavoidable legacy when speaking of Montevideo and the Uruguayan left. In an official statement, the party expressed its mourning for the loss of “a great comrade, mayor, senator, minister and mayor.”
Fernando Pereira, president of the Broad Front, remembered Arana as an exceptional person, full of love to give. In a post on social networks, Pereira mentioned that they were preparing to celebrate his 90th birthday. “Today it is difficult to express everything I feel, all the love I had for him, the love I tried to give him and all the love I received from him. Today we say goodbye to one of the best, a former mayor of Montevideo on two occasions, a minister, a senator, and after all that, with the humility typical of great men, he was elected mayor and held office throughout the term. Today words cannot express the magnitude of our loss. He leaves a friend and a political and values leader ”.
Who was Mariano Arana?
Mariano Arana knew every corner of the Uruguayan capital, its history, its circumstances and what would happen later, with exhaustive knowledge. The recovery of the Casco Viejo as historical heritage and nucleus of the current urban framework was one of his main works. First as an academic and then as mayor.
At that time, Arana was about 87 years old and, between laughs, he remembered the moment when Líber Seregni sought him out to propose his candidacy for the position of community chief. “When I told him that I accepted, I asked Seregni: ‘But can you assure me that I’m not going out?'”, he says. At that time, Arana was going through the covid-19 quarantine between readings and a lot of music by Bach.
It was born in Montevideo on March 6, 1933. He was the son and grandson of Spanish immigrants, who arrived in the first decades of the 20th century and gave the city a European character.
Arana was a deep believer: I used to go to the Methodist Church del Cordón with his mother. Curiously, he is convinced that his deep political convictions were born there, which always inclined him towards left. He remarked in interviews a biblical quote that deeply penetrated his imagination: “I assure you that a rich man will hardly enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
During that time, he completed his secondary education at the French Lyceum and then entered the Faculty of Architecture. After graduating, he became a teacher. “I started teaching classes long before the dictatorship”, remember. When the coup came, he thought that his teaching career would be short-lived, but the regime did not prevent him from continuing to teach, although he requested an extraordinary license.
After reorganizing his life after the chaos caused by the institutional breakdown, Arana returned to teaching with ideas that ultimately became the axis of his life and his future political career.
In 2001 he was distinguished as an emeritus professor at the Faculty of Architecture, he was also president of the Commission of Historical, Artistic and Cultural Heritage of the Nation between 1985 and 1989.
His time in the government of Tabaré Vázquez
As leader of the Broad Front, he became mayor of Montevideo on his second attempt, in 1994, and ruled from 1995 to 2005.
In 2005, with the inauguration of President Tabaré Vázquez, Mariano Arana was appointed Minister of Housing, Territorial Planning and the Environment. During his tenure, he focused on implementing public policies that promote sustainable development and environmental protection in Uruguay. His work focused on promoting urban planning, access to housing and the preservation of the country’s natural resources.
However, in August 2011, Mariano Arana was involved in a scandal that would affect his political reputation. The prosecutor Diego Pérez requested his prosecution with prison for the crimes of fraud, concussion and abuse of functions during his tenure as Mayor of Montevideo.
In particular, he was accused of having facilitated the actions carried out by the Director of Casinos, Juan Carlos Bengoa, who was also prosecuted in 2007.
The petition for prosecution caused a great uproar in public opinion and called into question Arana’s management as head of the Municipality of Montevideo. However, in November 2011, Judge Fanny Canessa dismissed the indictment request, citing the lack of sufficient elements. to support the charges against him. This judicial decision marked a turning point in the case and allowed Arana to continue his political career without criminal charges.