National Post (Latest Edition)
Planned bid for presidency while in jail
Argentina saw a boom under his leadership
buenos AIRES • Flamboyant Argentine former president Carlos Menem died on Sunday at age 90 after battling long-term health problems, the country’s current President Alberto Fernandez announced in a tweet.
Menem led a tabloid personal life while he pushed Argentina to an economic boom, but his two-term 1989-1999 presidency crumbled under the weight of corruption scandals and he spent years plotting an unlikely comeback.
With his black mane of hair and bushy grey sideburns, Menem at his peak entertained the rolling Stones and put Argentina on the international stage, sending troops to the Gulf War and bosnia.
“Above all, he leaves us with memories of a good person, whom I will remember with great affection,” former president Mauricio Macri tweeted.
Menem died after several weeks in hospital for a urinary infection, heart problems and other health issues. His body will lie in state at the capitol building before being buried in an Islamic cemetery in buenos Aires.
Menem won re-election after he privatized creaky state enterprises in a massive transformation of Argentine institutions in the early 1990s and the economy flourished.
but he left office under a cloud — charged with corruption and conducting illegal arms deals in 1991 and 1995 with Croatia and ecuador.
Ten years later, he was cleared of the charges, but he could never shake off the widely held suspicion that he had been involved in shady dealings.
The lawyer son of Syrian immigrants in La rioja province, west of buenos Aires, Menem became active in the Peronist party in the 1950s and 1960s and visited party founder Juan Peron in exile in Spain in 1964.
He served as La rioja’s governor from 1973-1976.
After a 1976 military coup Menem was arrested and imprisoned for five years, a time he dedicated to planning his bid for the presidency.
After his release he was re-elected governor two more times.
A charismatic speaker who favoured stylish silk and linen suits, Menem saw himself as the successor of his political mentor, Peron, who died in 1974 after returning from exile.