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Carlos Saul Menem: 1930—: Political Leader Biography

Longtime Perónist, Served As Governor, Ran For President, Continued Controversies

Carlos Saul Menem: 1930—: Political leader.

Twice elected president of Argentina, Carlos Menem's terms in office represented a rare period of political stability in the country. Yet Menem himself was never very far from controversy, both for his vivid public persona and a number of decisions that raised accusations of corruption and deceit. Since leaving the presidency, Menem has continued to be one of Argentina's most recognizable politicians. He has continued to lead his party, the Perónist Partido Justicialista, and has been rumored to be planning a run for a third term in office. Given Argentina's economic troubles, some Menem supporters claim that he is the best person to return the country to relative stability; however, his detractors point to a number of ongoing investigations into Menem's presidential actions that may derail any future political plans of the former president.

Carlos Saul Menem was born in the northwestern Argentina town of Anillaco. One of four sons of immigrants from Syria, Menem was raised in a Sunni Muslim family by his parents, Saul and Mohiba Menem. Saul Menem had worked his way up from being a simple street vendor to owning his own retail store and was proud that all of his children eventually finished college. Carlos Menem entered Córdoba University, located in Argentina's second-largest city, and earned a law degree in 1958. While a student, Menem already demonstrated an active interest in politics. In 1955 he created a chapter of the Juventud Perónista, a youth group for supporters of then-president Juan Perón. Although Perón was overthrown in a military coup that same year and ousted from the country, his party remained a significant force in Argentine politics. Menem continued to support the party and ran as a Perónist candidate in his first bid for elective office as a provincial deputy in 1962. The elections were called off, however, during another one of Argentina's frequent military coups.

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