Raúl Alfonsín

Alfonsin Official Presidential Portrait (1984) Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín Foulkes (12 March 1927 – 31 March 2009) was an Argentine lawyer and statesman who served as the President of Argentina from 10 December 1983 to 8 July 1989. Alfonsín was the first democratically elected president after more than seven years of military dictatorship and is considered the "father of modern democracy in Argentina". Born in Chascomús, Buenos Aires Province, he began his studies of law at the National University of La Plata and was a graduate of the University of Buenos Aires. He was affiliated with the Radical Civic Union (UCR), joining the faction of Ricardo Balbín after the party split.

He was elected a deputy in the legislature of the Buenos Aires province in 1958, during the presidency of Arturo Frondizi, and a national deputy during the presidency of Arturo Umberto Illia. He opposed both sides of the Dirty War, and several times filed a writ of ''Habeas corpus'', requesting the freedom of victims of forced disappearances, during the National Reorganization Process. He denounced the crimes of the military dictatorship of other countries, and opposed the actions of both sides in the Falklands War as well. He became the leader of the UCR after Balbín's death, and was the Radical candidate for the presidency in the 1983 elections, which he won.

When he became president, he sent a bill to the Congress to revoke the self-amnesty law established by the military. He established the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons to investigate the crimes committed by the military, which led to the Trial of the Juntas and resulted in the sentencing of the heads of the former regime. Discontent within the military led to the mutinies of the ''Carapintadas'', leading Alfonsín to appease them with the full stop law and the law of Due Obedience. He also had conflicts with the unions, which were controlled by the opposing Justicialist Party. He resolved the Beagle conflict, increased trade with Brazil, and proposed the creation of the Contadora support group to mediate between the United States and the Nicaraguan Contras. He passed the first divorce law of Argentina. He initiated the Austral plan to improve the national economy, but that plan, as well as the Spring plan, failed. The resulting hyperinflation and riots led to his party's defeat in the 1989 presidential elections, which was won by Peronist Carlos Menem.

He continued as the leader of the UCR, and opposed the presidency of Carlos Menem. He initiated the Pact of Olivos with Menem in order to negotiate the terms for the 1994 amendment of the Argentine Constitution. Fernando de la Rúa led a faction of the UCR that opposed the pact, and eventually became president in 1999. De la Rúa resigned during the December 2001 riots, and Alfonsín's faction provided the support needed for the Peronist Eduardo Duhalde to be appointed president by the Congress. Alfonsín died of lung cancer on 31 March 2009, at the age of 82, and was given a large state funeral. Provided by Wikipedia
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