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Alfonsín, Raúl Ricardo (1926–)

Alfonsín, Raúl Ricardo (1926–)

Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín (b. 13 March 1926), president of Argentina (1983–1989). The son of a local storekeeper, Alfonsín was raised in Chascomús, Buenos Aires Province. His maternal great-grandfather was an Irishman named Richard Foulkes, who married Mary Ford, daughter of a family of Falkland Islands kelpers. Staggeringly different from most British residents of South America, Don Ricardo became a passionate Argentine patriot fighting alongside the famous Radical leader Hipólito Irigoyen in the abortive revolution of 1905. With such family traditions, Alfonsín grew up fiercely opposed to electoral fraud, dictatorship, and corporatism. But it was only after Ricardo Balbín's death in September 1981 that he attained power in the Radical Party by winning the presidency (his first government post) in October 1983. The Radicals, who normally polled about 25 percent, got 51.7 percent, while the Peronists, with 40 percent, suffered their lowest vote and first ever defeat. The Alfonsín government introduced heterodox economic shock treatment, dubbed the Austral Plan, organized the first human rights trials in Latin America, and withstood three military uprisings. Defeat came in the shape of a civilian challenge. The Peronist Carlos Saúl Menem captured 47 percent in the May 1989 election, reducing Alfonsín to an opposition figure once again.

In 1994 Alfonsín and Menem signed the Pacto de Olivos, a set of documents that formed the foundation for that year's constitutional reform and allowed Menem to be reelected. Alfonsín stepped down as leader of the Radical Party in 1995.

See alsoArgentina, Political Parties: Radical Party (UCR) .


Pablo Giussani, Los días de Alfonsín (1986).

Jimmy Burns, The Land That Lost Its Heroes: The Falklands, the Post-War, and Alfonsín (1987).

Additional Bibliography

Acuña, Marcelo Luis. Alfonsín y el poder económico: El fracaso de la concertación y los pactos corporativos entre 1983 y 1989. Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1995.

McAdam, Andrew, Víktor Sukup, and Claudio Oscar Katiz. Raúl Alfonsín: La democracia a pesar de todo. Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1999.

Melo, Artemio Luis. El gobierno de Alfonsín: La instauración democrática argentina (1983–1989). Rosario, Argentina: Homo Sapiens Ediciones, 1995.

                                             Roger Gravil

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