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Carlos Menem

Carlos Saúl Menem Akil
Became President:1989
Predecessor:Raul Alfonsín
Date of Birth:July 2, 1930
Place of Birth:Anillaco, La Rioja

Carlos Saúl Menem Akil (born July 2, 1930) was President of Argentina from 1989 to 1999 for the Justicialist Party.

He was born into a Syrian family in Anillaco, in La Rioja, a province of Argentina. He trained as a lawyer at the University of Córdoba and became a supporter of Juan Domingo Perón. He campaigned for political prisoners and was arrested in 1957 for supporting violent action against Aramburu. He was elected governor of La Rioja in 1973, a prominent post that left him exposed after the overthrow of President Isabel Martínez de Perón in March 1976. He was imprisoned by the junta. In October 1983, with the collapse of military rule, Menem was re-elected as governor. In 1989 he was elected president, succeeding Raúl Alfonsín.

His major problem was the economy, damaged by hyperinflation and recession. Menem acted quickly: finance minister Domingo Cavallo introduced a series of reforms and linked the peso to the US dollar. The economy improved at the cost of considerable unemployment. In 1991 he helped the formation of the Mercosur customs union. His rule became tainted with accusations of corruption and instances of nepotism.

He had the constitution altered to allow him to run again in 1995. He attempted to change it again to let him run for a third time in 1999, but failed.

In May 2001, he married the Chilean model Cecilia Bolocco (1987's Miss Universe). On June 7, 2001, he was arrested over an arms export scandal dating back to 1991 and 1996, and remained under house arrest until November. He appeared before a judge in late August 2002 and denied all charges. Accounts belonging to him in Switzerland were found to contain USD $10 million.

Menem garnered the greatest number of votes in the April 27, 2003, first round presidential election, but failed to get the votes necessary to win an overall majority. A second-round run-off vote between Menem and Néstor Kirchner was scheduled for May 18, 2003, but knowing that he was facing a sure defeat, Menem decided to withdraw his candidacy, thus automatically making his rival, Kirchner, the new president.

Preceded by:
Raúl Alfonsín
Presidents of Argentina Succeeded by:
Fernando de la Rúa