Carlos Saúl Menem (born July 2, 1930) is an Argentine politician who was President of Argentina.
Carlos Robert Saúl Menem Akil was born in 1930 in Anillaco, a small town in the mountainous north of La Rioja Province, Argentina. His parents were immigrants from the Syrian village of Yabrud (part of the Ottoman Empire when they departed), and as a young man, he joined his father as a traveling salesman dealing in feed and sundry items. Menem enrolled in the National University of Cordoba, and received a juris doctor in 1955. As a Law student, he became a vocal Peronist, and after President Juan Perón's overthrow that year, he was briefly incarcerated. He later joined the Peronist Party's successor, the Justicialist Party, and was elected President of its La Rioja Province chapter, in 1963.
Menem was elected Governor of La Rioja in 1973, a prominent post that left him exposed after the overthrow of President Isabel Martínez de Perón in March 1976. Having been close to La Rioja Bishop Enrique Angelelli (a Third World Priest opposed by much of Argentina's conservative Roman Catholic Church), he was imprisoned by the military junta in Formosa Province until 1981, reportedly tortured in the process.