Juan de Dios Ramírez Heredia combines his work as a journalist and lawyer with the presidency of the Romani Union.
Born in Puerto Real (Cádiz) in 1942, he has an extensive political career that began in 1977 when he was elected as a Member of the Parliament in the first democratic elections that took place in Spain. Until the end of the term, he held the following positions: Vice President of the Culture Committee of the Congress of Deputies, Vice President of the Parliamentary Control Commission of RTVE, acting president and he also was a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. In 1983 he was appointed as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a position he held until 1985. On 1 January 1986, he was appointed as a Member of the European Parliament and he was reelected in 1987, 1989 and 1994, becoming the first Romani member of the European Parliament. During that period, he held positions of various kinds, among which we highlight the next ones: Vice President of the Information Subcommittee of the European Parliament, Member of the Citizen’s Commission on Law and Rights, Member of the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs and Member of the Subcommittee of Human Rights.
Simultaneously to his political career, Mr. Ramirez Heredia was actively engaged in the Romani international movement: he was a participant in the First Romani Congress in 1971, became one of the founding members of International Romani Union (1971) and president and founder of Spanish Union Romani in 1986. For his outstanding merits he was given a title of Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Cadiz in 2008.