Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Barbara Barbieri McGrath (1953–) Biography - Personal to Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) Biography » Carlos Saul Menem: 1930—: Political Leader Biography - Longtime Perónist, Served As Governor, Ran For President, Continued Controversies

Carlos Saul Menem: 1930—: Political Leader - Served As Governor

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After gaining the governor's seat for the province of La Rioja in 1973, Menem immediately implemented a Perónist agenda. He doubled the number of employees on the public payroll, even though the action meant that the province had to circulate state bonds in place of currency after the government ran out of money for its payroll. Menem added so many employees to the public sector that it soon became the largest employer in the province, even outnumbering the total number of private sector employees in La Rioja. By lowering the unemployment rate to just three percent, however, Menem's popularity surged. He also claimed to have brought several new employers into the province by promoting tax abatement and investment credit schemes. Although the policies reduced the amount of funds coming into government coffers, they also showed Menem to be a man of action in contrast to the typical Argentine politician.

With Juan Perón's return to Argentina from his exile in Spain in 1973, it appeared that the Perónists would once again dominate the country's political arena. Perón's rule turned out to be brief, however, for he died in July of 1974. His wife and successor, Isabel Perón, was subsequently thrown out of office in a military coup in March of 1976, and another era of rule by various military regimes followed. For Menem, the cost of the political upheavals was high: jailed in 1976 for his Perónist association, he spent five years as a political prisoner before being released in 1981.

Known as the "Dirty War," the period from 1976 to 1982 was one of the darkest in Argentina's history. In addition to political prisoners such as Menem, approximately 9,000 desaparecidos (or "the disappeared ones") were taken into custody by the military government on the pretext of representing a subversive threat. Many were tortured and some were drugged and thrown off of airplanes into the sea. For all the repression, however, Argentina's military rulers could not dampen the unrest brought on by deteriorating economic conditions. After the government hastily entered and lost a war with Great Britain over possession of the Falkland (or Malvinas) Islands in 1982, the junta declared that it would step aside in the face of enormous public opposition and turn power over to a civilian government. Before the transfer of power, however, the military government passed a law that absolved all participants in the deeds of the Dirty War.

Carlos Saul Menem: 1930—: Political Leader - Ran For President [next] [back] Carlos Saul Menem: 1930—: Political Leader - Longtime Perónist

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