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Fernando de la Rúa: 1937—: Politician, Lawyer

Abandoned Office

De la Rúa's last days in office were a desperate avoidance of the inevitable. He replaced departing finance secretary Daniel Marx with Miguel Kiguel, but could not deny the seriousness of the October 6th resignation of Vice President Carlos "Chacho" Alvarez, who declared his boss incapable or unwilling to punish senators caught in a bribery scandal. Promotion of scandal-soiled Labor Minister Alberto Flamarique to chief of staff increased rumors of mismanagement and coverup and fears that de la Rúa's rickety coalition would crumble. Flamarique lasted only a day before quitting. President of the Senate Jose Genoud followed within the week, leaving Chief of Intelligence Fernando Santibanez clinging to his post.

A bizarre turn of events ended de la Rúa's chances of restoring public confidence. In mid-December, Ernesto Belli, member of Daughters and Sons for Identity and Justice against Forgetting and Silence (HIJOS), grabbed President de la Rúa on camera during the popular TV show Video Match to dramatize the hopelessness of La Tablada prisoners who dwindled from a fourteen-week hunger strike. As a result de la Rúa reduced life sentences for 71 inmates. The president's public humiliation worsened as a two-week state of siege gripped the nation. Pensioners saw their savings and retirement funds rifled, their real estate devalued.

De la Rúa's approval ratings plummeted 40 points to 30 percent.

Amid mounting chaos that caused hundreds of injuries and 30 deaths, the de la Rúa presidency had little hope of survival. On December 20th, Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo led the rest of the cabinet in tendering letters of resignation. Hours later, de la Rúa abandoned his office. The admitted failures left some 18.3 percent of Argentines unemployed, homelessness mounting, state companies up for sale, and a treasury facing $132 billion in foreign debt. Replacing de la Rúa was Adolfo Rodriguez Saa, the interim president until Argentines went to the polls in March of 2002.



The Complete Marquis Who's Who, Marquis Who's Who, 2001.


Airline Industry Information, June 22, 2000. Business Week, November 8, 1999; October 30, 2000.

Economist (US), December 22, 2001.

Forbes, February 18, 2002.

Maclean's, December 31, 2001.

NACLA Report on the Americas, January 2000; January 2001.

U. S. News & World Report, February 28, 2000.

Washington Post, October 27, 1999; October 11, 2000; November 11, 2000; December 22, 2001; January 6, 2002.

World Press Review, January 2000.

—Mary Ellen Snodgrass

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Craig David Biography - Became Teenage MC to Herman Edwards BiographyFernando de la Rúa: 1937—: Politician, Lawyer Biography - Joined Union Civica Radical, Ran For President, Abandoned Office