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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Former Argentine President Carlos Menem died on February 14 at the Los Arcos Sanatorium in Palermo. He was 90 years old.

He served as the country’s president for 10 years, between 1989 and 1999.

Carlos Menem was a politician known for his dashing good looks and extravagant lifestyle.

He was a far cry from the military dictators he preceded and a throwback to the glamour of his political hero, Juan Perón.

After years of political instability Menem hoped to rescue Argentina from economic abyss, restoring its financial prosperity by seducing it away from isolationism and protectionism.

He opened the country to foreign investment, re-established relations with Britain and shifted its antagonistic relationship with the United States to one of almost unconditional support.

However, Carlos Menem’s administration was battered by financial scandal, rampant corruption, spiraling unemployment and irresponsible borrowing which sowed the seeds for a further, catastrophic economic collapse shortly after he left office.

Carlos Saúl Menem was born on July 2, 1930, in Anillaco – a small town in the north west of Argentina.

His parents were both immigrants from Syria. Born a Muslim, he became a Roman Catholic in his youth, but retained strong ties to his parents’ homeland.

Jorge Rafael Videla: Argentina’s former military leader dies in prison aged 87

After studying law at the University of Córdoba, Carlos Menem became active in the campaign to free political prisoners and was a supporter of the country’s former authoritarian president, Juan Perón.

In 1956, the year after Juan Perón was toppled in a military coup, Carlos Menem was arrested for attempting to foment violent opposition to the government and was briefly imprisoned. The following year he formed a provincial branch of the Peronist Youth movement.

Carlos Menem was elected as the local representative for his region in 1962, but yet another military coup prevented him from taking his seat. He travelled to Spain, where he met the exiled Perón, who gave Menem his blessing and predicted him a great future.

He was imprisoned by the military junta, this time for two years – accused of corruption and links with guerrilla movements. He was banished from the capital and restrictions placed on his political involvement until Argentina’s defeat in the Falklands and the collapse of the regime of Gen Leopoldo Galtieri.

With the country’s economy in tatters and the annual rate of inflation running at 5,000%, Carlos Menem’s government faced a crisis from the start.

He set out to convince the international financial community that he was capable of turning his country’s fortunes around. He pegged the peso to the US dollar, privatized public utilities and introduced a more market-based economy – a far cry from Peronism.

Additional foreign investment gave the country a much needed financial boost, reducing inflation and increasing output, but it came at the cost of mass unemployment.

Even so, Carlos Menem was re-elected in 1995 after he had amended the constitution to allow a second presidential term. But the glitz and glamour of the jet-setting, philandering, sports-mad president could not mask increasing problems with the economy.

He was close to both US President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton. He was invited to address a joint session of the US Congress and helped to found Mercosur, the South American customs union.

Alberto Fernández has been elected president of Argentina in a vote dominated by economic concerns.

The center-left opposition candidate secured more than the 45% of the vote needed to win, beating conservative incumbent Mauricio Macri.

Raucous crowds gathered at Alberto Fernández’s election headquarters to celebrate the result.

The vote was held amid an economic crisis that has left a third of Argentina’s population in poverty.

Mauricio Macri had trailed behind his challenger in pre-election polls and was trounced by the opposition in primary elections in August.

The incumbent president conceded defeat on October 27. Congratulating his political rival, Mauricio Macri said he had invited Alberto Fernández to the presidential palace on October 28 to discuss an orderly transition.

Alberto Fernández later told supporters he would collaborate with the outgoing president “in every way we can”, according to Reuters.

With more than 90% of ballots counted, Alberto Fernández had 47.79% of the vote, compared to Mauricio Macri’s 40.71%.

To win in the first round, a candidate needs at least 45% of the vote, or 40% and a 10-point lead over the second-place contestant.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Panama Papers: Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri Pledges to Assert His Innocence

Argentina Announces Relaxation of Forex Controls

Alberto Fernández will assume the presidency on December 10.

The vote was dominated by concerns over the economy. With nearly one in three people now living in poverty, voters backed the candidate they thought was best-placed to lead Argentina out of the crisis.

Mauricio Macri promised to achieve “zero poverty”, but things actually worsened during his four-year rule. His supporters say he inherited a broken economy when he came to power and needed more time to sort it out.

Alberto Fernández has vowed to play things safe financially.

Career politician Alberto Fernández has caused quite a stir since he first appeared in the limelight of Argentine politics some six months ago.

The former campaign strategist began his bid for the presidency in May – something of a surprise as ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had been widely tipped to be the center-left opposition coalition’s candidate for the top office.

However, Alberto Fernández really came into his own in August when he defeated Mauricio Macri by nearly 15 percentage points in primary elections, a compulsory vote for all electors which is seen is a dry-run for the presidency.


Former Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her two children are charged with money laundering and corruption.

Two business associates have also been charged in the case and all five are barred from leaving Argentina.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, 64, already faces other charges including fraudulently administering state funds.

The former leader has denied wrongdoing and says she is the victim of political persecution.

In a statement on April 4, legal officials said Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio had brought formal charges against Cristina Fernandez for alleged money laundering in property dealings.

Her daughter, Florencia, and son, Maximo, have also been charged along with businessmen Cristobal Lopez and Lazaro Baez.

About $8 million of Cristina Fernandez’s assets have been frozen, the statement added.

Last month, a judge ruled that Cristina Fernandez, who governed from 2007 to 2015, should stand trial on charges of financial mismanagement while in office.

The ex-president is accused of ordering the central bank to sell dollars on the futures market at artificially low prices ahead of a widely expected devaluation of the Argentine peso.

Cristina Fernandez also faces separate corruption charges alleging that her government steered public contracts to Lazaro Baez – a businessman close to her family.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner insists that all the allegations against her are politically motivated and has accused current President Mauricio Macri of plotting against her.


Argentina’s ex-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner should stand trial on charges of financial mismanagement, a judge has ruled on March 23.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, 64, is accused of fraudulently administering state funds in 2015.

Former economy minister Axel Kiciloff and the former head of the central bank have also been charged.

Cristina Fernandez, who governed from 2007 to 2015, said the case was politically motivated.

She already faces unrelated investigations into alleged corruption.

Judge Claudio Bonadio said a total of 15 people would go in trial in connection with the case.

Cristina Fernandez is accused of ordering the central bank to sell dollars on the futures market at artificially low prices ahead of a widely expected devaluation of the Argentine peso.

This, the allegation goes, caused Argentina to lose hundreds of millions of dollars.

Cristina Fernandez is also being investigated over alleged corruption but the dollar futures case would be the first to reach the trial phase.

She won the presidential election in 2007, succeeding her husband, Nestor Kirchner, in the top office.

In 2011, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was re-elected by a landslide.

Unable under Argentine law to stand for a third consecutive term, she backed Daniel Scioli in the 2015 election campaign.

However, voters chose the conservative mayor of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri, instead.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner says she has been the target of “political persecution” since Mauricio Macri came to power.

Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri has pledged to assert his innocence when he appears before a federal prosecutor to explain his financial dealings.

An investigation began on April 7 after it transpired Mauricio Macri was mentioned in the Panama Papers, leaked files of law firm Mossack Fonseca.

According to local media reports, Mauricio Macri was listed as director of an offshore company in the Bahamas.

In a TV address, President Mauricio Macri vowed to prove he had done nothing wrong.

He said he wanted to co-operate fully with any inquiry.Mauricio Macri on Panama Papers

“I know there are some people concerned about these allegations in the Panama Papers that have come out and involve me,” the president said.

“I want to say one more time that I am very calm, I have complied with the law, I have told the truth and I have nothing to hide.”

Mauricio Macri said that he had made clear in his initial declaration that he did not have any shares and did not receive any payment for acting as a director of offshore companies.

He said that on April 8 he would be submitting a judicial “declaration of certainty” so that prosecutors can see he is telling the truth.

Mauricio Macri’s office has insisted that he had no shares in the company in question and never received any income from it.

Argentina’s national tax authority and anti-corruption office will be asked to provide information to the inquiry.

Prosecutor Federico Delgado said he wanted to determine if Mauricio Macri had “omitted, with malicious intent” mentioning his reported role in the Bahamas-registered offshore company Fleg Trading.

La Nacion, one of the newspapers examining some of the leaked documents, reported that Mauricio Macri was listed as a director of Fleg Trading from 1998 until 2009.

He did not list the company in his 2007 financial declaration, when he became mayor of Buenos Aires or in his 2015 declaration when he became president.

On April 5, Mauricio Macri’s office confirmed that a business group owned by the president’s family had set up an offshore company through the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers scandal.

However, the president’s office argued that because he had never received any income from it there had been no reason to mention it in the financial declarations.

Mauricio Macri campaigned on a promise to combat corruption.

Mauricio Macri has been sworn in as Argentina’s president in a Buenos Aires ceremony.

The newly-elected president vowed to unite the nation and revive the economy.

The center-right Mauricio Macri took the oath of office in Congress but his inauguration was boycotted by his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, in a row over the venue.

In his inaugural speech, Mauricio Macri vowed to tackle corruption, poverty and drug trafficking.

He also pledged “team work” and an end to confrontation in politics.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Mauricio Macri, 56, told Congress: “As president I want to be a citizen who can communicate with all Argentines.

“Politics for me is not a competition to see who’s got the bigger ego. It’s working together for the good of the people.”

“Today a dream is being achieved,” he said.

On December 9, outgoing President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had bid farewell to supporters in an emotional speech, urging people to take to the streets if they felt betrayed by the new centre-right government.

This is the first time since the end of the military dictatorship in 1983 that a president has not attended the inauguration of a successor.

Mauricio Macri triumphed in last month’s election run-off, beating Cristina Fernandez’s chosen successor, Daniel Scioli.

The newly-elected president has promised to move from a largely state-controlled economy under the leftist Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to one that is more free market-orientated, easing trade and currency controls.

Mauricio Macri has also promised to improve relations with the US.

In his speech in Congress he said: “We’ve got to take confrontation out of the centre of politics. With fighting no-one wins, with dialogue, everyone wins.

“A new time is coming, a time of dialogue, a time of teamwork.”

Mauricio Macri said those who had voted for him wanted three goals – zero poverty, an end to drug trafficking and the unity of all Argentines.

To applause, he said he wanted a judiciary cleaned of its political affiliations.

Marta Gabriela Michetti was sworn in as vice-president.

Mauricio Macri then travelled to the presidential palace to receive the sash and baton of office.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had insisted that the handover of the symbols of office should also take place in Congress, where her party holds a majority of seats.

She argued this was a tradition established by her and her late husband and predecessor in office, Nestor Kirchner.

Mauricio Macri argued that according to presidential protocol, the handover should be held in the palace, as it was before 2003.

Local media reported that Mauricio Macri’s decision was probably driven not just by tradition but also by a concern that followers of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner could disrupt the ceremony in Congress.

After Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner declined to attend the ceremonies, Mauricio Macri’s party sought a court injunction affirming that her term ended at midnight on December 9.

Argentina is voting to choose the country’s next president in a general election that ends 12 years of rule under the Kirchners.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has served two consecutive terms and, under Argentina’s constitution, cannot run again.

Cristina Fernandez’s hand-picked successor, left-winger Daniel Scioli, is leading polls.

However, Daniel Scioli he is expected to face stiff competition from Mauricio Macri, the centre-right mayor of Buenos Aires.

Another candidate, Sergio Massa, a former Kirchner ally, is polling behind Mauricio Macri, while there are three other names on the ballot paper.

Today is the first round of voting – if no candidate gets more than 45% of the vote, or gets a minimum of 40% as well as a 10-point lead, there will be a run-off on November 22.

Whoever wins the presidency faces significant economic challenges.

Photo AP

Photo AP

While Argentina gained strength after a financial crisis in 2002, its economy, the third largest in Latin America, has slowed down in recent years, with GDP growing by only 0.5% in 2014.

The government is also locked in a battle against American hedge funds who disagree with how is wants to restructure $100 billion of debt on which it defaulted in 2001.

While the companies successfully sued Argentina for repayment, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner refused to pay.

She succeeded her husband Nestor Kirchner as president. He died in 2010, three years after handing over the presidency to his wife.

Daniel Scioli, the governor of Buenos Aires province, is a former world powerboating champion who lost his right arm in a boat race in 1989.

Last week, he pledged tax cuts for middle-class workers earning under a certain income, a move expected to affect half a million people.

Daniel Scioli has also vowed to bring down Argentina’s inflation to single digits in less than four years and promises to introduce policy changes to invigorate the economy.

Like Daniel Scioli, Mauricio Macri is married to a former model. He is a former president of Boca Juniors, Argentina’s most successful soccer club.

While Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has sought to press Argentina’s claims for the disputed UK territory of the Falkland Islands, Daniel Scioli says he would not appoint a Falklands minister, and would seek closer ties with London.