Argentine ex-President Menem stable but to remain hospitalized

Buenos Aires, Dec 20 (efe-epa).- Former Argentine President Carlos Menem, who governed from 1989-1999, is in “stable” condition but will remain hospitalized at the medical center where he was admitted last Tuesday for a urinary tract infection after suffering a cardiac problem, his doctor reported Sunday.

“He remains stable. The urologists are looking at him, the urinary tract infection situation has been overcome,” Dr. Luis de la Fuente said of the 90-year-old Menem in remarks to Ribadavia Radio.

The physician said that the possibility of releasing Menem is being evaluated “day to day,” although for the moment he ruled it out saying medical personnel must “also control his diabetes because that also destabilizes him,” although he emphasized that the former president’s state of health is not serious.

“There are many people who still don’t understand and think that he’s … in very serious shape. Of course, they’ll have to keep him hospitalized … Later, we’ll see. We’re going day to day,” he added.

Menem, who last year was admitted to the hospital twice – in June for a bout of pneumonia that required him to be placed in the intensive care unit, and at the end of July for assorted testing – turned 90 on July 2, while he was hospitalized the first time.

An attorney by training, in 1973, Menem was elected governor of La Rioja, his home province, and served in that capacity until 1976, when – after the country’s last military coup – he was imprisoned for five years.

At the end of the 1976-1983 dictatorship and after Raul Alfonsin won the presidency, Menem once again won the gubernatorial race in La Rioja and was subsequently reelected in 1987, serving there until he won the presidency himself in 1989 amid a complicated economic and social situation that had led Alfonsin to move up the elections by several months.

During his presidency, in which he signed controversial pardons for the military junta members and guerrilla leaders, the economy underwent profound transformations with a huge trade opening and an intense process of privatization of public firms, all of which resulted – over the passage of time – in heavy criticism being leveled against him by both political allies and adversaries.

Menem, who was born a Muslim to Syrian parents ini La Rioja but converted to Roman Catholicism to pursue a political career, once again ran for president in 2003, but – facing the likely possibility of defeat by Nestor Kirchner, he decided to withdraw from the race, thus in essence handing the presidency to Kirchner.

Besides serving as a senator for the past 15 years, Menem in recent times has faced assorted accusations and corruption cases resulting from his actions as president and has maintained a low public profile.


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