|Birth name||Diomedes Díaz Maestre |
|Also known as||El Cacique de La Junta|
26 May 1957|
La Junta, San Juan del Cesar, La Guajira, Colombia
|Died||22 December 2013
Valledupar, Cesar, Colombia
|Genres||Vallenato, Latin, dance-pop|
Diomedes Díaz Maestre (26 May 1957 – 22 December 2013)) was a Colombian vallenato singer, songwriter, and composer. His nickname, "El Cacique de la Junta" ("the Chieftain of La Junta"), was given to him by another vallenato singer, Rafael Orozco Maestre, to honor Díaz's birthplace.
Early years (1957–1997)
Díaz was born and raised on a farm called "Carrizal" on the outskirts of La Junta, La Guajira. His father, Rafael Maria Díaz, and his mother, Elvira Maestre, were poor. His childhood was spent helping his parents and eight brothers with farm duties, while he was musically influenced by his locally renowned uncle, Martin Elias. His friends nicknamed him "El Chivato" ("the little goat"), making fun of his young vibrating voice. Eventually an uncle decided to help him train his voice and compose songs; Diomedes mastered his vocal training and was invited to perform at parties. He moved to Valledupar to work as a gardener, and also worked as a messenger and office boy for local radio station Radio Guatapuri. Between 1974 and 1975, he got his first recording deal with Jorge Quiróz and Luciano Poveda, a vallenato group. They recorded the song "La Negra and Cantor Campesino", which won Díaz fame. He also composed the song "Cariñito de Mi Vida" which was sung by his school friend and upcoming Vallenato singer Rafael Orozco.
Díaz received invitations to more parties, gigs and reunions, and his voice captivated a new generation of fans. At the cultural week for a local high school, he met Rafael Orozco Maestre, an emerging vallenato singer who would give Díaz his famous nickname El Cacique de La Junta. After saving money, he recorded his first LP, with accordionist Nafer Durán, which was played on radio stations and catapulted Díaz to regional fame.
Díaz died 22 December 2013 of a heart attack at age 56 after being rushed to a hospital. Hundreds of people reportedly swarmed around a firetruck that carried his body for display in the main square of Valledupar, the singer-songwriter’s hometown. His death came three days after he released a new CD.
Doris Adriana Niño
During the night of 14–15 May 1997, Díaz was having a party in his apartment in Bogotá, when a friend, Doris Adriana Niño, was killed. According to the Constitutional Court of Colombia, some people at the party, including Niño, consumed drugs, but is not clear if she was involuntarily forced to take drugs or did so voluntarily. The report says that Niño was raped, and had an argument with a pregnant woman at the party, Luz Consuelo Martínez. Niño died that night and her body appeared on the outskirts of Bogotá, near the Village of San Onofre, municipality of Combita, (Boyacá Department).
Díaz was captured by order of the Attorney general's office on 3 October 1997, and was given house arrest after proving he was suffering from Guillain-Barré syndrome. On 11 August 2000, a judge ordered Díaz transferred to jail, considering that his illness had been considerably overcome. When authorities went to his house to complete the transfer, Díaz had escaped and found refuge with an illegal paramilitary group headed by Rodrigo Tovar.
During the trial, Díaz was tried as an "absent inmate"; the judge concluded that Niño had a great amount of drugs the night she died, but the Attorney General's Office determined that her death had been caused by provoked asphyxiation. The Colombian Bureau of Legal Medicine determined that she had died from pressure put over her mouth and nose. On 20 August 2002, after a year and a half of evading house arrest, Díaz turned himself in to authorities in Valledupar, accompanied by two of his lawyers. On 21 August 2002, a Colombian Superior Tribunal reduced his jail term from 144 to 37 months; Niño's family protested that the sentence was too low. He had already spent a year in jail and had two years pending before his escape. According to the trial, Díaz did not commit unintentional homicide (homicidio preterintencional), in which the aggressor wants to induce damage but ends up causing death, as the previous judge had ruled. Instead, it was determined that he had committed voluntary manslaughter (homicidio culposo), which according to Colombian law, is a less severe than unintentional homicide.
Criticism of trial
Doris Adriana Niño's family, especially her brother Rodrigo, criticized the lenient treatment given to Díaz by authorities as he expressed in statements after Díaz turn himself in:
He had to turn himself in, because he got a substantial reduction on his jail time, which came down from 10 years to 37 months. Sincerely, I think that no one is going to do something about it, because that process for escaping from prison is going to preclude ... Díaz had a suspended arrest warrant, had freedom benefits for supposedly being ill, but he wasn't detained. Then they have to be clear on that, we should not be tricked: nothing is going to happen to Mr. Diomedes for his prison escape because basically it never existed... [A]lso, besides that Diomedes has a process for narcotics (Law 30) that he is supposed to follow and be strong, because it is said that the death of Doris Adriana was because of drugs [overdose]. But, I'm convinced that the contrary is going to happen. It is going to preclude.—Rodrigo Niño, 
- On 22 November 2005 the local government of Cali vetoed all performances by Díaz in the city after the singer allegedly used cocaine while performing onstage. Although video images proved the contrary, the Cali City Hall gave notice to all entertainment businesses that the government was not going to issue any permits for the use of public areas where Díaz would be scheduled to appear. The incident was considered a warning by the local administration to other performers.
- On 22 February 2006, Díaz was scheduled to sing in the city of Santa Marta. According to the businessman Johnny Bennedetti who hired Díaz, the singer did not show up for the event, causing a mob to almost completely destroy the venue, "La Tremenda". According to Díaz publicist José Sequeda, the people in charge of the event did not deliver on time the full payment as was established in the contract. He said that he had given Diaz part of the money as initial payment. As a result of the mob, 25 microphones, liquor and money were stolen and sound system equipment was damaged.
- 1976 Herencia Vallenata, featuring Nafer Durán.
- 1976 Tres Canciones, featuring Edelberto López.
- 1977 De Frente, featuring Edelberto López.
- 1978 La Locura, featuring Juancho Rois.
- 1979 Dos Grandes, featuring Colacho Mendoza.
- 1979 Los Profesionales, featuring Colacho Mendoza.
- 1980 Tu Serenata, featuring Colacho Mendoza.
- 1980 Para Mi Fanaticada, featuring Colacho Mendoza.
- 1981 Con Mucho Estilo, featuring Colacho Mendoza.
- 1982 Todo es para ti, featuring Colacho Mendoza.
- 1983 Cantando, featuring Colacho Mendoza.
- 1984 El Mundo, featuring Colacho Mendoza.
- 1985 Vallenato, featuring Cocha Molina.
- 1986 Brindo con el Alma, featuring Cocha Molina.
- 1987 Incontenibles, featuring Cocha Molina.
- 1988 Gano el Folclor, featuring Juancho Rois.
- 1989 El Cóndor Herido, featuring Juancho Rois.
- 1990 Canta Conmigo, featuring Juancho Rois.
- 1991 Mi Vida Musical, featuring Juancho Rois.
- 1992 El Regreso del Cóndor, featuring Juancho Rois.
- 1993 Titulo de Amor, featuring Juancho Rois.
- 1994 26 de Mayo, featuring Juancho Rois.
- 1995 Un Canto Celestial, featuring Iván Zuleta.
- 1996 Muchas Gracias, featuring Iván Zuleta.
- 1997 Mi Biografia, featuring Iván Zuleta.
- 1998 Volver a Vivir, featuring Iván Zuleta.
- 1999 Experiencias Vividas, featuring Franco Argüelles.
- 2002 Gracias a Dios, featuring Cocha Molina.
- 2003 Pidiendo Vía, featuring Juan Mario de la Espriella.
- 2005 De Nuevo Con Mi Gente, featuring Franco Argüelles.
- 2007 La Voz, featuring accordion player Iván Zuleta.
- 2009 Celebremos Juntos
- 2009 Listo Pa' la foto
- 2011 Con Mucho Gusto, featuring Alvaro Lopéz
- 2013 La Vida del Artista, featuring Alvaro Lopéz (This was his last album; released a few days before his death).
- 2014 56 años, 56 éxitos, una historia (Posthumous solo project)
- 2015 Entre Díaz y canciones, featuring Martín Elías and Rafael Santos Díaz (Posthumous solo project, accompanied by their sons)
Awards and nominations
Latin Grammy Awards
Diaz received a Latin Grammy Award and three nominations.
|Year||Recipient / Nominated work||Award||Result|
|2009||Celebremos Juntos||Best Cumbia/Vallenato Album||Nominated|
|2010||Listo Pa' la foto||Best Cumbia/Vallenato Album||Won|
|2012||Con Mucho Gusto Caray||Best Cumbia/Vallenato Album||Nominated|
|2014||La Vida del Artista||Best Cumbia/Vallenato Album||Nominated|
- Diomedes Diaz Maestre, una identidad para toda la vida - Birth Certificate Scan; accessed January 5th 2015.
- (Spanish) "Murió en Cesar el cantante Diomedes Díaz", Noticias Caracol; retrieved 23 December 2013.
- "Diomedes Díaz: El Cacique de la Junta." ColombiaLink.com; accessed 29 September 2006.
- AP (23 December 2013). "Colombians Mourn Death Of Star Vallenato Performer". Demagogue. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
- "Diomedes Díaz se entregó a la justicia" at the Wayback Machine (archived June 27, 2004), El País (27 September 2002). (Spanish)
- Colombian Ministry of Justice. Case T-781455. (15 January 2004); accessed 29 September 2006. (Spanish)
- Revista Semana: Articulo - Vidas Paralelas semana.com; accessed 27 October 2006.
- VETADO DIOMEDES DÍAZ EN CALI, Cali.gov.co; accessed 14 January 2007.
- Disturbios por concierto de Diomedes Díaz, universia.net.co; accessed 14 January 2007.
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