**Gonzalo Pérez Iribarren** was a Uruguayan mathematician and statistician who was forced to spend ten years in exile during the right-wing dictatorship beginning in 1973. He returned to Uruguay in 1983 and was the main force in rebuilding the Institute of Mathematics and Statistics and setting up the Basic Sciences Development Programme.

- Gonzalo Pérez was brought up in Carmelo, where he lived in an apartment on the banks of the Arroyo de las Vacas, a water course that flows into the Río de la Plata at Carmelo.
- Most of Gonzalo Pérez's schooling took place in Carmelo but in the 1950s he went to study in Montevideo for the second cycle of Secondary Education.
- Let us note at this point that Gonzalo Pérez had the nickname "Flaco" or "El Flaco", meaning "the skinny one" and his colleagues often referred to him with this nickname when speaking about him.
- Iribarren was interested in studying mathematics but this was only possible in the Faculty of Engineering which he entered.
- Gonzalo participated in the questions and the searches that could never leave him.
- Iribarren was a seminarian in Rome and studied theology, Greek and Latin.
- Iribarren was deeply involved in these religious events but was never ordained as a priest.
- Ricardo Pérez was one of the first to recognise that, "The world is digital", and he introduced digital techniques into both teaching and research.
- In March 1968, however, a new tragedy, the accident that left Ricardo dead and Gonzalo seriously injured.
- Iribarren fled, with several other Uruguayan mathematicians, to the University of Buenos Aires where they were given work.
- Iribarren remained in Buenos Aires for a while using his mathematical skills to work for both public and private companies.
- Iribarren's unusual route into teaching mathematics at university level meant that he had no degree.
- He was awarded a first degree while in Buenos Aires, then began research for a doctorate with Enrique Mario Cabaña Pérez who had been a colleague in Montevideo before the 1973 coup, then had fled to Venezuela where he was working at the Universidad Simón Bolívar.
- Gonzalo took two very important initiatives, he gave the first courses on Probability, Statistics and Stochastic Processes and assigned a room for the Seminars ...
- Being director of the Institute of Mathematics and Statistics required contemplating all this diversity without losing its richness, giving each one a place, a possibility, without frustrating hopes or vocations, and Gonzalo achieved this.
- Gonzalo was a true goldsmith of feelings and passions, a master to listen to, and who listened, opening doors, looking for paths.
- With Gonzalo we talked not only about mathematics, we talked about hopes, about cinema, about future possibilities and present probabilities, about literature.
- Perhaps Iribarren's greatest achievement was setting up the Basic Sciences Development Programme (PEDEClBA) sponsored by UNESCO.
- Gonzalo invited me to go to his house one summer weekend to chat with him.
- Iribarren died when only 61 years of age.

Born 26 June 1936, Carmelo, Uruguay. Died 27 August 1998, Montevideo, Uruguay.

View full biography at [MacTutor](https://mathshistory.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Iribarren/

**O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F**: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive