TDoR 2020 / 2020 / September / 24 / Juliana Giraldo Díaz

Juliana Giraldo Díaz

Age 38

24 Sep 2020
Miranda, Cauca (Colombia)

TDoR list ref: tgeu/24-Sep-2020/Juliana Giraldo Díaz

Juliana Giraldo Díaz
Juliana Giraldo Díaz [photo:]

Juliana died after the car she and her husband were in was shot at by a soldier - according to initial reports at a checkpoint, though later evidence contradicated this.

They had reportedly turned around because her husband was not carrying the car's documents.

The death of a trans woman shot in the head by a soldier causes a commotion in Colombia. The Army alleges that the shot was fired because the car in which the victim was travelling disobeyed a stop order.

In fact, it was more of a murder. Her boyfriend, who was also in the vehicle, disputes this version. Juliana Giraldo, 35, was in the car, next to her boyfriend, Francisco Larrañiaga, when she was shot.

The Army presented a lie, saying that the couple's vehicle did not respect an order to stop and, therefore, the military opened fire on him. This version, however, is questioned by Larrañiaga. The fact is that one more person died in this while being shot in the head by a soldier in the municipality of Miranda, in Cauca, in southwestern Colombia.

These facts are known: the couple travelled on a road that links the municipalities of Miranda and Corinto, in a region that is greatly affected by violence caused by drug trafficking. After Giraldo was hit, her boyfriend filmed the scene as about five soldiers approached the car.

The boyfriend says that, without a doubt, it was murder: - They killed Juliana! This man shot her in the head. Help me, please help me! - Larrañiaga pleaded beside his girlfriend's body.

The murder sparked protests. Crowds took to the streets denouncing “The state doesn't take care of me, it kills me”, said a demonstrator's sign in front of the headquarters of the third army brigade in Cali. The death caused a commotion in the country after the video made by the victim's boyfriend went viral on social networks.

The case comes at a time when Colombia is already facing major protests against police and military brutality in the country. The demonstrations, which began after the death of a man in police custody, have left at least 13 dead, most of them young and shot.

Juliana and her husband had been together for three years. They had moved to Miranda a year earlier with the aim of opening a beauty salon in the municipality.

Who was Juliana Giraldo, the woman killed by a soldier in Cauca?

Juliana Giraldo Díaz, the 38-year-old woman who died, according to initial reports, after being shot by a soldier, had lived with her partner three years ago. Both had arrived in Miranda in the last year with the dream of putting together a beauty salon.

Francisco Larrañaga, her husband, said that she was an optimistic person and eager to get ahead. She was a stylist and dreamed of setting up a beauty salon in Miranda. Meanwhile, he sold chicken and fish, saying that to be together they had to overcome criticiscm and accusations by different members of the community and even those close to them. The partner of the murdered woman also said that they have no criminal record to have been subject to review at this apparent checkpoint.

Francisco and Juliana helped each other with raising chickens to sell them. He also repaired vehicles.

News of the killing has spread around Colombia, prompting protests and even interventions by the president of the country. Meanwhile Juliana's family are trying to calm things down.

The relatives of Juliana Giraldo, who died after being shot by an Army soldier during an operation, do not want more protests or violence in the municipality of Cauca.

The victim's sister, Aura María Díaz, called for non-violence and assured that “there is no hatred” towards the soldier who committed the act.

“To those who want to demonstrate, let them do so peacefully. We know that we all reject the act. We don't want what happened to my sister to be to generate more violence. No more violence, no more riots, ”he said.

According to a report by Noticias Caracol, Díaz met with the family of the soldier named following Giraldo's death, who asked for forgiveness for what happened.

Three months after her death, her husband Francisco gave an interview to El Tiempo:

This December 24 will not be the same for Francisco Larrañaga. That day marks three months since the death of his wife, Juliana Giraldo Díaz, the 38-year-old trans woman who lost her life after being shot by an Army soldier in Miranda, Cauca, and whose case shocked the country.

"The worst Christmas of my life," he says, in an interview with EL TIEMPO. “Our Christmases were with the family, full of joy. They were true Christmases, like when one is a child, everything is beautiful, but it will no longer be like that”.

But in the midst of deep pain, he also found comfort: “The only thing that comforts me is that, at the time of her death, Juliana did not suffer. Her death was instantaneous, that is the sadness that, paradoxically, gives me a little encouragement”.

Francisco speaks at a leisurely pace and stops every so often to think what he is saying, perhaps because his memories are running through him and his nostalgia assails him. When asked about what he misses most about Juliana, he responds without hesitation: "Her presence, her presence was superior." For him, his wife "was a being that did not seem of this world."

The couple's story began in Cali, in 2017, when they met near the transport terminal. On one of his visits, he showed her a 200-year-old house in the center of that municipality and which he had inherited. It was almost in ruins, but Juliana was excited and proposed to restore it. They built their home there: they painted the walls, replaced the old wood, took the largest room as their room and in other spaces they opened a chicken and fish farm and adapted a parking lot. They lived there with Francisco's mother and stepfather and planned to open the lower part of the house as a beauty salon, since Juliana was a talented stylist.

"Ours was a very strong relationship, between the two of us there was so much motivation, so much love, that energy flowed and things happened," Francisco says.

But death spoiled those plans. The businesses today remain abandoned, since the loss is still recent and the family tries to mourn calmly, although they say that they will eventually resume working on them. "My idea is to make those projects successful on her behalf."

In the middle of his story, Francisco reveals that he plans to create a foundation, named after Juliana Giraldo, to help children, the elderly, and people with terminal illnesses. He considers that it is a fair way to honor her, since his wife is remembered as a hospitable woman. In fact, together they used to help homeless children with food and clothing, assisted vulnerable LGBTI people and even from time to time opened the doors of their house for free hairdressing days for homeless people.

In April 2021 Cristian Saavedra Arias was charged with Juliana's murder. By the time the trial started it was known that there was no checkpoint.

The Prosecutor's Office will charge Cristian Saavedra Arias with the crime of homicide of a protected person, for the events that occurred on September 24 in the municipality of Miranda.

The Office of the Attorney General of the Nation will charge the high school soldier Cristian Saavedra Arias for the murder of Juliana Giraldo on September 24 of last year. The hearing will take place this Wednesday, April 7 at 10:00 am before the Promiscuous Court of Miranda, Cauca.

Before the accusing body, the uniformed man will be charged with the crime of homicide of a protected person for the murder registered when Saavedra fired his weapon against the car in which the woman and her husband were driving.

According to a source from the Prosecutor's Office consulted by El Tiempo, the account that claimed that assured that the soldiers were a the scene running a checkpoint was untrue. "The signs that are required for a checkpoint were not found at the scene," he said.

In addition, the Prosecutor's Office argued that, as a transgender woman, Juliana Giraldo Díaz was protected by International Humanitarian Law.

During the trial it was alleged that Arias was under the influence of psychoactive drugs at the time he shot Juliana. The defence argued that Juliana was shot at point blank range and had been dead before Saavedra opened fire.

Report added: 26 Sep 2020. Last updated: 13 Jul 2023

Trigger warning

This site contains reports of violence against transgender people, and links to detailed reports which contain graphic imagery.

Please continue with caution.


Get me out of here!