|Height:||165 cm (5' 5'')|
|Birth Day:||July 2, 1930|
|#2||Máximo Saúl Menem Bolocco||Children||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#3||Zulema María Eva Menem||Daughter||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#5||Zulema Yoma||Former spouse||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#6||Cecilia Bolocco||Former spouse||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||55||Political Wife|
|#8||Carlos Nair Menem||Son||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#9||Carlos Menem Jr.||Son||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|165 cm (5' 5'')||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
He worked as a traveling salesman alongside his father in his teens.
Carlos Saúl Menem was born in 1930 in Anillaco, a small town in the mountainous north of La Rioja Province, Argentina. His parents, Saúl Menem and Mohibe Akil, were Syrian nationals from Yabroud who had emigrated to Argentina. He attended elementary and high school in La Rioja, and joined a basketball team during his university studies. He visited Buenos Aires in 1951 with the team, and met the president Juan Perón and his wife Eva Perón. This influenced Menem to become a Peronist. He studied law at the National University of Córdoba, graduating in 1955.
After President Juan Peron's overthrow in 1955, Menem was briefly incarcerated. He later joined the successor to the Peronist Party, the Justicialist Party (Partido Justicialista) (PJ). He was elected president of its La Rioja Province chapter in 1973. In that capacity, he was included in the flight to Spain that brought Perón back to Argentina after his long exile. According to the Peronist politician Juan Manuel Abal Medina, Menem played no special part in the event.
Menem was elected governor in 1973, when the proscription over Peronism was lifted. He was deposed during the 1976 Argentine coup d'état that deposed the president Isabel Martínez de Perón. He was accused of corruption, and having links with the guerrillas of the Dirty War. He was detained on 25 March, kept for a week at a local regiment, and then moved to a temporary prison at the ship "33 Orientales" in Buenos Aires. He was detained alongside former ministers Antonio Cafiero, Jorge Taiana, Miguel Unamuno, José Deheza, and Pedro Arrighi, the unionists Jorge Triaca, Diego Ibáñez, and Lorenzo Miguel, the diplomat Jorge Vázquez, the journalist Osvaldo Papaleo, and the former president Raúl Lastiri. He shared a cell with Pedro Eladio Vázquez, Juan Perón's personal physician. During this time he helped the chaplain Lorenzo Lavalle, despite being a Muslim. In July he was sent to Magdalena, to a permanent prison. His wife Zulema visited him every week, but rejected his conversion to Roman Catholicism. His mother died during the time he was a prisoner, and dictator Jorge Rafael Videla denied his request to attend her funeral. He was released on 29 July 1978, on the condition that he live in a city outside his home province without leaving it. He settled in Mar del Plata.
Menem met Admiral Eduardo Massera, who intended to run for president, and had public meetings with personalities such as Carlos Monzón, Susana Giménez, and Alberto Olmedo. As a result, he was forced to reside in another city, Tandil. He had to report daily to Chief of Police Hugo Zamora. This forced residence was lifted in February 1980. He returned to Buenos Aires, and then to La Rioja. He resumed his political activities, despite the prohibition, and was detained again. His new forced residence was in Las Lomitas, in Formosa Province. He was one of the last politicians to be released from prison by the National Reorganization Process.
Military rule ended in 1983, and the radical Raúl Alfonsín was elected president. Menem ran for governor again, and was elected by a clear margin. The province benefited from tax regulations established by the military, which allowed increased industrial growth. His party got control of the provincial legislature, and he was re-elected in 1987 with 63% of the vote. The PJ was divided in two factions, the conservatives that still supported the political doctrines of Juan and Isabel Perón, and those who proposed a renovation of the party. The internal disputes ceased in 1987. Menem, with his prominent victory in his district, was one of the leading figures of the party, and disputed its leadership.
The military leaders of the National Reorganization Process, convicted in the 1985 Trial of the Juntas, received presidential pardons, despite popular opposition to them. This was an old request of the Carapintadas in previous years. However, Menem did not apply their proposed changes to the military. The colonel, Mohamed Alí Seineldín, who was also pardoned, started a new mutiny, killing two military men. Unlike the mutinies that took place during the presidency of Alfonsín, the military fully obeyed Menem's orders for a forceful repression. Seineldín was utterly defeated, and sentenced to life imprisonment. This was the last military mutiny in Argentina.
The elections were held on 14 May 1989. Menem won by a wide margin, and became the new president. He was scheduled to take office on 10 December, but inflation levels took a turn for the worse, growing into hyperinflation, causing public riots. The outgoing president Alfonsín resigned and transferred power to Menem five months early, on 8 July. Menem's accession marked the first time since Hipólito Yrigoyen took office in 1916 that an incumbent president peacefully transferred power to an elected successor from the opposition.
In May 1989, amid the worst economic crisis in the country’s history, he was elected President of Argentina.
Despite increased tax revenue and the money gained from privatizations, the economy was still unstable. The Bunge and Born businessmen left the government in late 1989, amid a second round of hyperinflation.
The swiftgate scandal broke out in 1990, as American investors were damaged by a case of corruption, and asked for assistance from the United States' Ambassador Terence Todman. Most of the ministers resigned as a result of it. Cavallo was reassigned as minister of economy, and his successful economic plan turned him into a prominent figure in Menem's cabinet. Cavallo brought a number of independent economists to the cabinet, and Menem supported him by replacing Peronist politicians. Both teams complemented each other. Both Menem and Cavallo tried to be recognized as the designer of the convertibility plan.
Menem's government re-established relations with the United Kingdom, suspended since the Falklands War, after Margaret Thatcher left office in 1990. The discussions on the Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute were temporarily given a lower priority, and the focus shifted to discussions of fishing rights.
His fourth minister of economy, Domingo Cavallo, was appointed in 1991, and deepened the liberalization of the economy. The Convertibility plan was sanctioned by Congress, setting a one-to-one fixed exchange rate between the United States dollar and the new Argentine peso, which replaced the Austral. The law also limited public expenditures, but this was frequently ignored. Under Cavallo, there was increased free trade, alongside a general reduction of tariffs on imports and state regulations to tackle inflation, and high taxes on sales and earnings to reduce the deficit caused by it. Initially, the plan was a success: the capital flights ended, interest rates were lowered, inflation fell to single digits, and economic activity increased; in that year alone, the gross domestic product grew at a rate of 10,5%.
Antonio Cafiero, a rival of Menem in the PJ, was unable to amend the constitution of the Buenos Aires province to run for a re-election. Duhalde stepped down from the vice presidency and became the new governor in the 1991 elections, turning the province into a powerful bastion. Menem also selected famous people with no political background to run for office in those elections including the singer Palito Ortega and racing driver Carlos Reutemann. The elections were a big success for the PJ. After these elections, all of the PJ was aligned with Menem's leadership, with the exception of a small number of legislators known as the "Group of Eight". The opposition from the UCR was minimal, as the party was still discredited by the 1989 crisis. With such political influence, Menem began his proposal to amend the constitution to allow a re-election. The party did not have the required super majority in the Congress to call for it. The PJ was divided, as other politicians intended to replace Menem in 1995, or negotiate their support. The UCR was divided as well, as Alfonsín opposed the proposal, but governors Angeloz and Massaccesi were open for negotiations. The victory in the 1993 elections strengthened his proposal, which was approved by the Senate. Menem called for a non-binding referendum on the proposal, to increase pressure on the radical deputies. He also sent a bill to the Congress to modify the majority requirements. Alfonsín met with Menem and agreed to support the proposal in exchange for amendments that would place limits on presidential power. This negotiation is known as the Pact of Olivos. The capital city of Buenos Aires would be allowed to elect its own chief of government. Presidential elections would use a system of ballotage, and the president could only be re-elected once. The electoral college was abolished, replaced by direct elections. The provinces would be allowed to elect a third senator; two for the majority party and one for the first minority. The Council of Magistracy of the Nation would have the power to propose new judges, and the Necessity and Urgency Decrees would have a reduced scope.
In 1991 Menem became the first Head of State of Argentina to make a diplomatic visit to Israel. He proposed to mediate between Israel and Syria in their negotiations over the Golan Heights. The diplomatic relations were damaged by the lack of results in the investigations over the two terrorist attacks.
The Israeli embassy suffered a terrorist attack on 17 March 1992. It was perceived as a consequence of Argentina's involvement in the Gulf War. Although Hezbollah claimed responsibility for it, the Supreme Court investigated several other hypotheses. The Court wrote a report in 1996 suggesting that it could have been the explosion of an arms cache stored in the basement. Another hypothesis was that the attack could have been performed by Jewish extremists, in order to cast blame on Muslims and thwart the peace negotiations. The Court finally held Hezbollah responsible for the attack in May 1999.
The president effected drastic cuts to the military budget, and privatized military factories. Menem appointed Lt. Gen. Martín Balza, who had performed well during the repression of Seineldín's mutiny, as the Army's General Chief of Staff (head of the military hierarchy). The death of a conscript soldier in 1994, victim of abuses by his superiors, led to the abolition of conscription in the country. The following year, Balza voiced the first institutional self-criticism of the armed forces during the Dirty War, saying that obedience did not justify the actions committed in those years.
The Argentine Israelite Mutual Association suffered a terrorist attack with a car bomb on 18 July 1994, which killed eighty-five people. It was the most destructive terrorist attack in the history of Latin America. The attack was universally condemned and 155,000 people manifested their concern in a demonstration at the Congressional plaza; but Menem did not attend. The legal case stayed unresolved during the remainder of Menem's presidency. Menem had suggested, in the first press conference, that former Carapintada leaders may be responsible of the attack, but this idea was rejected by the minister of defense several hours later. The CIA office in Buenos Aires initially considered it a joint Iranian-Syrian attack, but some days later considered it just an Iranian attack. Menem and Mossad also preferred this line of investigation. As a result of the attack, the Jewish community in Argentina had increased influence over Argentine politics. Years later, the prosecutor Alberto Nisman charged Menem with covering up a local connection to the attack, as the local terrorists may have been distant Syrian relatives of the Menem family. However, Menem was never tried for this suspected cover up, and on 18 January 2015, Nisman was found dead of a gunshot to his head at his home in Buenos Aires.
Despite of the internal opposition of Fernando de la Rúa, Alfonsín got his party to approve the pact. He reasoned that Menem would be supported by the eventual referendum, that many legislators would turn to his side, and he would eventually be able to amend the constitution reinforcing presidential power rather than limiting it. Still, as both sides feared a betrayal, all the contents of the pact were included as a single proposal, not allowing the Constituent Assembly to discuss each one separately. The Broad Front, a new political party composed of former Peronists, led by Carlos Álvarez, grew in the elections for the Constituent Assembly. Both the PJ and the UCR respected the pact, which was completely approved. Duhalde made a similar amendment to the constitution of the Buenos Aires province, in order to be re-elected in 1995. Menem won the elections with more than 50% of the vote, followed by José Octavio Bordón, and Carlos Álvarez. The UCR finished third in the elections for the first time.
The 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 1998 Russian financial crisis also affected the country with consequences that lasted longer than the Tequilla Crisis and started a depression.
On 7 June 2001, Menem was arrested over a weapons export scandal. The scheme was based on exports to Ecuador and Croatia in 1991 and 1996. He was held under house arrest until November. He appeared before a judge in late August 2002 and denied all charges. Menem and his Chilean second wife Cecilia Bolocco, who had had a child since their marriage in 2001, fled to Chile. Argentine judicial authorities repeatedly requested Menem's extradition to face embezzlement charges. This request was rejected by the Chilean Supreme Court as under Chilean law, people cannot be extradited for questioning. On 22 December 2004, after the arrest warrants were cancelled, Menem returned with his family to Argentina. He still faced charges of embezzlement and failing to declare illegal funds in a Swiss bank. He was declared innocent of those charges in 2013.
Menem ran in 2003 and won the greatest number of votes, 24%, in the first round of the 27 April 2003 presidential election; but votes were split among numerous parties. Under the 1994 amendment, a presidential candidate can win outright by winning 45% of the vote, or 40% if the margin of victory is 10 or more percentage points. This set the stage for Argentina's first-ever ballotage between Menem and second-place finisher, and fellow Peronist, Néstor Kirchner, who had received 22%, was scheduled for 18 May. However, by that time, Menem had become very unpopular. Polls predicted that he faced almost certain defeat by Kirchner in the runoff. Most polls showed Kirchner taking at least 60 percent of the vote, and at least one poll showed Menem losing by as many as 50 points. To avoid a humiliating defeat, Menem withdrew his candidacy on 14 May, effectively handing the presidency to Kirchner.
Ángel Maza, the elected governor of La Rioja, was allied with Menem, and had campaigned for him. However, weak provincial finances forced Maza to switch his support to Kirchner, which weakened Menem's influence even further. In June 2004 Menem announced that he had founded a new faction within the PJ, called "People's Peronism". He announced his intention to run in the 2007 election. In 2005, the press reported that he was trying to form an alliance with his former minister of economy Cavallo to fight in the parliamentary elections. Menem said that there had been only preliminary conversations and an alliance did not result. In the 23 October 2005 elections, Menem won the minority seat in the Senate representing his province of birth. The two seats allocated to the majority were won by President Kirchner's faction, locally led by Ángel Maza.
Menem ran for Governor of La Rioja in August 2007, but was defeated. He finished in third place with about 22% of the vote. This was viewed as a catastrophic defeat, signaling the end of his political dominance in La Rioja. It was the first time in 30 years that Menem had lost an election. Following this defeat in his home province, he withdrew his candidacy for president. At the end of 2009 he announced that he intended to run for the presidency again in the 2011 elections. but ran for a new term as senator instead.
In August 2008, the BBC reported that Menem was under investigation for his role in the 1995 Río Tercero explosion, which is alleged to have been part of the weapons scandal involving Croatia and Ecuador. Following an Appeals Court ruling that found Menem guilty of aggravated smuggling, he was sentenced to seven years in prison on 13 June 2013, for his role in illegally smuggling weapons to Ecuador and Croatia; his position as senator earned him immunity from incarceration, and his advanced age (82) afforded him the possibility of house arrest. His minister of defence during the weapons sales, Oscar Camilión, was concurrently sentenced to five and a half years.
In December 2008, the German multinational Siemens agreed to pay an $800 million fine to the United States government, and approximately €700 million to the German government, to settle allegations of bribery. The settlement revealed that Menem had received about US$2 million in bribes from Siemens in exchange for awarding the national ID card and passport production contract to Siemens; Menem denied the charges but nonetheless agreed to pay the fine.
On 1 December 2015, Menem was also found guilty of embezzlement, and sentenced four and half years to prison. Domingo Cavallo, his economy minister, and Raúl Granillo Ocampo, Menem's former minister of justice, also received prison sentences of more than three years for participating in the scheme, and were ordered to repay hundreds of thousands of pesos’ worth of illegal bonuses.
Currently, Carlos Menem is 91 years, 10 months and 15 days old. Carlos Menem will celebrate 92nd birthday on a Saturday 2nd of July 2022.
Find out about Carlos Menem birthday activities in timeline view here.