Flamboyante Argentinian former President Menem (90) died

Argentine ex-president Carlos Menem died at the age of 90 after weeks of sickness. Menem led the country from 1989 to 1999. President Alberto Fernández announced his death and proclaimed three days of national mourning.

Menem sent Argentina from a deep recession through an extensive privatisation programme to a free market economy that neighbouring countries looked jealously at. He stopped the deep fall of the Argentine peso by linking the coin to the US dollar. At the same time, unemployment, the difference between rich and poor and foreign debt increased hand over hand.

His course was far away from that of his former teacher, General and President Peron, who advocated a state-controlled society and economy.

Menems critics painted him as a playboy. Adorned with medium hair and long sideburns, he liked to be in the company of celebrities such as Madonna and the Rolling Stones.

Strong connection with the US

Menem forged US ties and allowed Argentine soldiers to participate in the first Gulf War against Iraq in 1991. Despite fierce opposition from human rights organizations, he amnesty former members of the military junta convicted of the disappearance of many dissidents Under the dictatorship from 1976 to 1983, he also set former guerrilleros off that period at large, according to his own accord, in order to facilitate national reconciliation.

After his resignation, Menem was involved in various controversy. For example, he was convicted of being involved in the sale of arms to Croatia (during the Balkan War) and Ecuador in spite of an arms embargo against those countries. He managed to stay out of jail because he enjoyed immunity as a senator. He remained a senator until his death.