How Argentina Had Five Presidents in Two Weeks

Fernando de la Rúa, a former president of Argentina

Introduction

Argentina’s economy was crumbling and the political situation was becoming polarizing, all because they had tried to peg the Argentine Peso to the United States Dollar. Demands for monetary independence and Brazil’s (a major trading partner of Argentina) simultaneous economic struggle contributed to the failure of the program, and the country racked up debt from ambitiously trying to better their economic situation. Soon, it got so bad that the Argentine banking system collapsed and cash could barely be used. This led to the period (December 2001) of instability that was one of the worst, if not the worst in Argentina’s history, and led to the country going through 5 presidents in two weeks. 

Fernando de la Rúa – Served as President for ~2 Years

Fernando de la Rúa of the Radical Civic Union political party (part of the Alliance for Work, Justice, and Education coalition) served from the 10th of December, 1999 to the 20th of December, 2001. He resigned after hearing that the Peronist representatives (his opposing political party) would refuse to cooperate with his requests to form a united government. The Peronists, who had control of the government at the time, made haste in giving Ramón Puerta the position of president of the Senate. This meant that since both de la Rúa’s vice president and de la Rúa had resigned, Puerta was in line to become the president. 

Ramón Puerta – Served as President for ~2 Days

The Peronist was appointed to be an interim president, as Argentine law requires that the Senate and the House of Deputies must meet to actually reassign the presidency. The Peronists made Puerta the president of the Senate, meaning he was next in line and could be president, even if it was only briefly. They could pick either a member from Congress or a provincial governor to be the next president. The Peronist representatives were some of the most powerful people in the country at the time, and they were divided and who to appoint. So instead of picking one of the three ‘natural candidates,’ they picked another interim president to serve, namely: Adolfo Rodríguez Saá, the then Governor of San Luis.

Adolfo Rodríguez Saá – Served as President for ~8 Days

Rodríguez Saá was nominated to be president for a mere three months until presidential elections on March 3rd. However, Rodríguez Saá clearly wanted to be an actual president, so he set forth very ambitious goals for the country. Soon, he actually became unpopular in a move to appoint a very corrupt person to the government and in a move that many saw as him trying to expand his power. Riots erupted and Rodríguez Saá called for a meeting of the Peronist governors but realized he lacked support even from most of them. He resigned quickly thereafter. 

Eduardo Camaño – Served as President for ~3 Days

Puerta was offered the presidency, but refused, leaving the government with no president, vice president or president of the Senate. Next in line was Eduardo Camaño, the Speaker of the House of Deputies. This time, the president was to serve until the Senate and the House of Deputies convened to pick a new president. Soon, they did and chose Eduardo Duhalde. Ironically, Duhalde had formerly competed against de la Rúa.

Eduardo Duhalde – Served as President for ~1 Year

Eduardo Duhalde was chosen to be the president until the 2003 presidential elections. This time, there wasn’t an interim president. Duhalde worked with his Economy Minister to try and extensively solve the country’s economic issues. Later, in the 2003 elections, Néstor Kirchner was elected to be president.

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