Argentine politician, President of the Republic between 1989 and 1999, born on July 2, 1930 in Anillaco (La Rioja). His full name is Carlos Saúl Menem Akil.
Son of Sunni Syrian immigrants arrived in Argentina in the second decade of the century, attended primary and secondary school in his home province. In 1950, during a student trip to the capital, he/she met general Juan Domingo Perón and his wife, Eva Duarte. Degree in law from the University of Cordoba in 1955, he/she began to practice law in La Rioja as a defender of trade of political prisoners incarcerated as a result of the coup d ' état antiperonist that last year. In 1957, after a period of detention for political reasons last year, he/she founded the Peronist youth of La Rioja and became legal advisor of the General Labour Confederation (CGT) in this province; an activity that served until 1970.
Forced to military in the Popular Union Party by finding outlawed peronism, in 1962 was elected provincial deputy Castro Barros Department, but in 1963 the military coup that overthrew President Arturo Illía precluded him play the position. That same year he/she was elected President of the banned Peronist party (PJ) in La Rioja, but his career suffered a new setback when in 1964 had to withdraw its candidacy to the gobernaduria of La Rioja, following the appeal made by Perón from his Madrid exile so the justicialistas forces refrain from participating in elections under the acronym of other parties.
In 1964, he/she made two trips to the outside, one to the land of their ancestors, Syria, where he/she met his future wife, Zulema Yoma, and another to Madrid, where he/she met with Perón as a proxy of the Peronist youth of La Rioja. In the democratic elections of March 11, 1973, first with direct participation of the PJ, Menem won for Governor of La Rioja with 67% of the votes, but on March 24, 1976, day of the military coup that overthrew President María Estela Martínez de Perón, was stripped of his post and detained. Until 1978 remained prisoner on a ship anchored in Buenos Aires and then in the penal military of Magdalena, and until February 17, 1981 in probation regime continued.
With the restoration of democracy, he/she was again elected Governor of La Rioja on October 30, 1983, with 54% of the votes, and in 1987 he/she won the re-election with 63%. On July 9, 1988 won the provincial Governor of Buenos Aires, Antonio Cafiero, the Peronist party for next year's presidential primaries. On May 14, 1989 Menem won the radical Eduardo Angeloz with more than 47.3% of the vote, and on July 8, five months in advance (the transfer of power scheduled December 10), succeeded the outgoing President Raúl Alfonsín, who wished to avoid such prolonged provisional given the delicate economic and social situation.
Indeed, Menem inherited an economy in rapid decomposition, with a recession of - 6% and inflation of 5,000%. Quickly and giving a 180 degree turn to his populist campaign, implemented a remarkably hard program of shock, whose ultraliberal character angered many Peronists, which reminded the eminently social nature of the Peronist movement. The first two years of the Menem Government were dramatic, with a comprehensive program of deregulation, privatization, reduction of public spending and moderation of wages (below the price index) which had devastating effects on the middle class and low, over a succession of scandals, with episodes of intrigue and marital conflict typical of the tabloid press, showing a corruption of large proportions in the environment closest to the Casa Rosada.
Also undertook a series of measures designed to resolve definitively the "military issue", including the controversial pardon Maxima guilty of repression during the dictatorship, awarded on December 30, 1990, just a few days of frustrated the last mutiny of military "carapintadas" in Buenos Aires, led by the right-wing Colonel Mohamed Seineldín. This decision was appraised as insensitive to the victims of the dictatorship and as a sign of the weakness of the Government, but Menem justified her for the sake of the overcoming of the past.
In 1991 the social tensions began to slow, while the shock program started to bear fruit macroeconomic: positive growth of 4.5 percent and "moderate" inflation of 230%. This trend held until 1995, when ensued a sudden recession of - 4.4%, but with an inflation rate of 1.6%, the second lowest in the world that year. At this time Menem had managed to impose some order in their ranks and soon benefited from the relative social calm: PJ won in partial legislative of October 3, 1993 with 43.1% of the votes and 126 seats, and the constituents of the 10 of April 1994 with 37.6% and 138 seats. Figures that should be added to those obtained by radicals (19.9% and 75), new and unannounced allies of Menem since the "Pacto de Los Olivos" on November 14, 1993, to promote a constitutional reform allowing presidential re-election for two consecutive four-year terms.
Menem successfully completed its continuity strategy in the general election of May 14, 1995: he/she was re-elected in the presidential elections with 49.6% of the vote compared with 29.2% of his immediate rival, José Octavio Bordón, of the solidary country front (FREPASO), a powerful amalgam center-left wing socialists and dissidents "traitor peronism" and "radicalism light"; in the legislative PJ, with its 134 seats, won the first absolute majority of peronism since 1951. Menem took took possession of his second term on July 8.
Even though he/she got in these consultations electoral backing that somehow recognized its macroeconomic successes, not ceased to be subject to harsh allegations from various groups considered wronged by their management: trade unions, organizations of victims of the dictatorship, popular-based partnerships or the Guild of journalists, among others. In the summer of 1996 was reactivated labour protest by increase of unemployment and social inequality, that the remarkable economic growth and inflation annihilated (only a testimonial 0.1%) failed to overshadow. This discontent was confirmed in the legislative elections and to Governors of the 26 October 1997, in which the new UCR-Frepaso Alliance beat the PJ, for the first time since 1987, with 45.7 percent of the votes compared to 36.2%. The opposition then warned the possibility of displacing peronism in power in the presidential elections of 1999.
Indeed, after foiling aspirations of Menem own PJ to opt - in via a second reform constitutional ad hoc-a third term, agreed the nomination of the popular Governor of the province of Buenos Aires and rival, Eduardo Duhalde. However, in the elections of October 24, the winner was aliancista Fernando de la Rúa, which Menem has gone through its functions on December 10, 1999. At the time of his departure Menem was saving to Fidel Castro, the oldest Latin American President.
Other highlights of Menem mandate were the resignation to develop nuclear weapons on 28 November 1990 and the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom on February 15, 1990, eight years after the Falklands war. Normalization of relations had its climax during a visit made to the United Kingdom in October 1998, first of an Argentine President since the war, which signed with the Prime Minister Tony Blair a declaration of mutual recognition of the respective claims of sovereignty over the Islands.
Menem was protagonist of international events such as the Summit of Asunción, which launched the MERCOSUR (March 26, 1991), the 5th Ibero-American Summit, in San Carlos de Bariloche (16-17 October 1995), and the Interregional MERCOSUR-EU agreement, in Madrid (15 December 1995), among others. He/She promoted the integration of Argentina into various initiatives of international cooperation, since peacekeeping operations United Nations peacekeeping to the modern trends of commercial globalization. In this last chapter, Menem revealed itself as an ally in South America of the project promoted by the United States for an Area of free trade of the Americas (FTAA), effective in 2005. On the other hand, the socio-rival of Argentina in the region, Brazil, prepends the MERCOSUR, previous project reduced geographical area but with much larger goals of integration.
On 7 June 2001 the former President had to face one of the worst moments of his political career. The Argentine justice ordered his arrest for his alleged responsibility in the illegal sale of arms to Croatia and Ecuador. During his tenure, Argentina sent weapons material to these two countries despite the international embargo imposed by the war in the Balkans Croatia and Ecuador by the conflict with Peru. As he/she had already reached the age of seventy, Menem could benefit from house arrest that includes the law of the country for older detainees. A month later, the Argentine judge Jorge Urso confirmed the detention of former President and ordered his prosecution. Finally, regained their freedom on November 20 when the Supreme Court handed down a judgment of acquittal.
In October 2002, it announced its participation in the internal election of the Peronist party to designate the Peronist candidate in the presidential elections, scheduled for the spring of 2003. There were agreements in the bosom of the formation and, for the first time in the history of the Justicialist Party, the Peronists attended urns fragmented in support of three different applications: that of the Governor of Santa Cruz, Néstor Kirchner, the ephemeral President Adolfo Rodríguez Saá and the fireproof Carlos Menem. Menem and Kirchner were the most voted in the first round and were invited to compete in the second head of State. All the polls gave Kirchner as a favorite and began to circulate rumors about the intention of Menem to abandon the electoral fight. The fears were met, and on May 14, 2003, four days before the election, the former President announced the withdrawal of his candidacy. Néstor Kirchner, his gesture, greeted with surprise by his followers and with apparent indignation by detractors, became new President of the Republic.
Menem left the country and settled in neighboring Chile, though it failed to prevent new claims of the Argentine justice for two separate crimes of fraud in public bidding and tax fraud. The process against the former President accused him of embezzling funds earmarked for the construction of criminal and hide an account in Switzerland, during her time in the Casa Rosada. In December 2004, Menem announced his return to the country after judges declared the suspension of the arrest warrants international in Exchange for the defendant deposited bail of one million dollars. Reinstated in his home province of La Rioja, it promised to present his candidacy for the presidential elections of 2007. Before preparing a new landing at the Casa Rosada, it announced its intention of becoming a Senator after the elections of October 2005. He/She managed a wide victory in the primaries of the Peronist party in La Rioja, held in the month of August, and fulfilled its goal of seat in the Senate in the fall elections.
Author of the books Argentina now or ever, Argentina is 2000, the productive revolution and reform of the State and national transformation. Among its abundant decorations should be mentioned: Collar of the King Abdul Aziz in the first degree (Saudi Arabia), great Star of the order of honour (Austria), national order of the Collar of the order of Isabel the Catholic (Spain), Cruzeiro do Sul (Brazil), Collar of the order of merit (Chile), Collar of the order of the Nile (Egypt), Grand order of King Tomislav (Croatia)Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor (France), order of the merit of the Italian Republic, Grand Cordon of the Supreme order of the Chrysanthemum (Japan), sovereign order of Malta, Collar of the order of the Aztec Eagle (Mexico), order of the Sun (Peru), Knight of the order Pianna (Vatican), logo of the Grand Cordon of the order of the Umayyad (Syria) and order of the liberties Simón Bolívar (Venezuela). Doctor honoris is also causa by the universities of Peking, Houston, Loyola and Keio, among other academic distinctions.
In relation to the terrible bombings to the headquarters of the AMIA, an israeli cultural institution, in 1994, a federal judge in Argentina ordered prosecution of former President Menem, along with the former head of intelligence Hugo Anzorreguy and Judge Juan José Galeano, by alleged cover-up.
R. Ortiz de Zárate