Carlos Menem

Carlos Saúl Menem (2 July 1930 – 14 February 2021) was an Argentine lawyer and politician who served as the 44th president of Argentina from 1989 to 1999. He was also a Senator for La Rioja Province from 2005 until his death. Ideologically, he identified as a Peronist and supported economically liberal policies. He served as President of the Justicialist Party for thirteen years (from 1990 to 2001 and again from 2001 to 2003), and his political approach became known as Menemism. Born in Anillaco to a Syrian family, Menem was raised as a Muslim, but later converted to Roman Catholicism to pursue a political career. Menem became a Peronist during a visit to Buenos Aires. He led the party in his home province of La Rioja and was elected governor in 1973. He was deposed and detained during the 1976 Argentine coup d'état and was elected governor again in 1983. He defeated the Buenos Aires governor Antonio Cafiero in the primary elections for the 1989 presidential elections, which he won. Hyperinflation and riots forced outgoing president Raúl Alfonsín to resign early, shortening the presidential transition. Menem supported the Washington Consensus and tackled inflation with the Convertibility plan in 1991. The plan was complemented by a series of privatizations and was a success. Argentina re-established diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom, suspended since the 1982 Falklands War, and developed special relations with the United States. The country suffered two terrorist attacks. The Peronist victory in the 1993 midterm elections allowed him to persuade Alfonsín (by then leader of the opposition party UCR) to sign the Pact of Olivos for the 1994 amendment of the Argentine Constitution. This amendment allowed Menem to run for re-election in 1995, which he won. A new economic crisis began, and the opposing parties formed a political coalition winning the 1997 midterm elections and the 1999 presidential election. He was investigated on various criminal and corruption charges, including illegal arms trafficking, (he was sentenced to seven years in prison), embezzlement of public funds (he was sentenced four and half years to prison), extortion and bribery (in both he was declared innocent). His position as senator earned him immunity from incarceration.Menem ran for the presidency again in 2003, but faced with a likely defeat in a ballotage against Néstor Kirchner, he chose to pull out, effectively handing the presidency to Kirchner. He was elected senator for La Rioja in 2005. By the time of his death in 2021 at age 90, he was the oldest living former Argentine president.

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