By ANDRES OPPENHEIMER
Herald Staff Writer
Argentine President Carlos Menem, whose chances of running for a third
were seriously diminished by a political defeat in a state election last weekend, said
Tuesday in Miami that his reelection is ``totally out of the question.''
``I have taken myself out of that possibility [of running again] last July
said in response to a question after receiving an honorary doctoral degree at
Florida International University. ``Since then, I'm self-excluded from any possibility
of a reelection.''
Menem, who has gone back and forth on the reelection issue over the past
said his supporters have ``insisted'' on an effort in the courts to change the laws to
permit him to make a third bid for the presidency. He said reports of these efforts
have given rise to ``stories that don't have anything to do with reality.''
He seemed to leave the door open, however, when he ended his comments about
the legal bar to his reelection by saying, ``Let's see how the whole thing ends up.''
Menem had suggested as recently as last week that he would run for a third
the constitution allowed him to do so, and senior government officials have been
telling reporters for months that the president is seeking a third term. Critics say
Menem is encouraging his aides to promote his reelection, while publicly denying
any intention to join the race.
Menem cut short his visit to Miami by five hours. He left at noon Tuesday
receiving his honorary degree from FIU, addressing a Microsoft conference for
Latin American executives and signing a cooperation agreement with Microsoft
chief Bill Gates.
On Monday, an Argentine court ruled against four reelection petitions presented
by Menem supporters. But Argentine officials say Menem suffered the most
serious blow on Sunday, when his candidate for governor lost a key election in the
northern province of Catamarca.
Argentina's presidential election is scheduled Oct. 24. Menem, who was
1989, finishes his second term of office Dec. 10.
On Tuesday morning, Menem discussed his efforts to make Argentina computer-
and Internet-literate, comparing himself to reformist Argentine President Domingo
Faustino Sarmiento, whose achievements from 1868 to 1874 included extending
telegraph lines throughout the country.
``After Sarmiento, it is my turn today to promote lines of information
Menem told the Sixth Annual Microsoft Latin America Enterprise Solutions
Menem outlined his efforts to crack down on software piracy, to computerize
government and to make his nation computer-literate.
``I invite you to invest in Argentina, all of you, but especially Bill
Copyright © 1999 The Miami Herald