Former President Carlos Menem (1989-1999), who ruled Argentina for a decade along a neoliberal political line, died Sunday in a clinic in Buenos Aires at the age of 90.
“I learned with deep sorrow of the death of Carlos Saul Menem,” Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez, from the Peronist movement like the deceased to whom he paid tribute, said on Twitter. “During the dictatorship (1976-1983), he was persecuted and imprisoned.”
With deep regret, I learned of the death of Carlos Saúl Menem. Always elected in a democracy, he was governor of La Rioja, president of the Nation and national senator. During the dictatorship, he was persecuted and imprisoned. All my love goes to Zulema, Zulemita and everyone who mourns him today. pic.twitter.com/m3zYdQV781
– Alberto Fernández (@alferdez) February 14, 2021
Three days of national mourning have been declared. Carlos Menem will be buried Monday in the Muslim cemetery of Buenos Aires, where his son Carlos is buried, who died in 1995 in a helicopter crash that has never been clarified. “He is going to rest in the Muslim cemetery with my brother, although he was of the Catholic religion, to be with my brother,” Carlos Menem’s daughter, Zulemita, said on discharge from the hospital.
Tributes in South America
The wake began Sunday evening at Congress, where Argentinian Vice-President Cristina Kirchner, also President of the Senate, received the family upon the arrival of the coffin covered with the Argentinian flag.
The visibly moved President Fernandez and his wife Fabiola Yanez arrived an hour later and offered their condolences to the family.
Chilean President Sebastian Piñera paid tribute to Carlos Menem, “who marked the 90s in Argentina and was a good friend of Chile”. “My solidarity with his family and the Argentine people, and may God welcome his soul,” he wrote on Twitter. The Brazilian government also paid tribute to the deceased in a statement.
Today President Carlos Menem has passed away, who marked the 90s in Argentina and was a good friend of Chile.
My solidarity with his family and the Argentine people and may God welcome his soul.
– Sébastien Piñera (@sebastianpinera) February 14, 2021
Affected by several corruption cases
Senator since 2005, Carlos Menem had been hospitalized several times in recent months due to various health problems. On December 29, he was unable to participate in the Senate vote on the abortion law due to his hospitalization.
Originally from the province of La Rioja (north-west), Carlos Menem, son of Syrian immigrants, ruled Argentina for ten years, from 1989 to 1999, leading a neoliberal policy. During this period, he introduced “convertibility” fixing the peso-dollar exchange rate at one to one. The national currency had suffered a violent devaluation during the historic economic crisis that followed.
Carlos Menem had three children from two marriages followed by two divorces, the first with Zulema Yoma and the second with the former Chilean Miss Universe Cecilia Bolocco.
He was the subject of judicial inquiries in several corruption cases, but had never been convicted. Placed in house arrest in 2001 in a case of arms smuggling to Croatia and Ecuador, he was released a few weeks later by decision of the Supreme Court of Justice and finally discharged due to the excessive length of time. the proceedings after a quarter of a century of prosecution.