Argentina’s first president to be democratically elected after the military dictatorship, Raúl Alfonsín, died last night at the age of 82. The ex-president had suffered from lung cancer, which was further complicated on Sunday, 29 March, by pneumonia.
He passed away last night, 31 March, at 8:30pm. The official announcement was made shortly afterwards at 9pm. Dr. Alberto Sadler delivered the news:
“Unfortunately at 8:30, Raúl Alfonsín died quietly and in peace at home, accompanied by his family. He was calmly asleep, with sensory and breathing impairments. At this time, it can only be said that it happened in a very peaceful moment when he was accompanied by his family, which is the way he always wanted to go.”
Alfonsín had been in poor health for the past week, with a medical team caring for him at his apartment on Avenida Santa Fe. He was suffering from lung cancer with bone mestastasis when his health further worsened after he contracted bronchial pneumonia.
His last public appearance was in October, when the current president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, unveiled a bust in his honour. The tribute was held at the Casa Rosada to mark 25 years since his inauguration.
“Whether you like it or not, you are a symbol of the return of democracy,” said Kirchner during the ceremony.
The government has announced a decree that will begin three days of mourning for the ex-president. Kirchner, who is in London, has agreed that until Thursday, all flags will be flown at half mast.
Born on 12 March 1927 in Chascomús, Alfonsín was the first president to be democratically elected after the fall of the military dictatorship which brought about the ‘Dirty War’.
Elected in 1983, his first act as president was to begin trying the military for human rights abuses. He himself had been a prominent figure in opposing the actions of the dictatorship during the 1970s. Once he assumed the presidency, he worked to try and jail former military officials who had tortured and killed thousands.