The death of former Argentinian President Carlos Menem has commanded obituaries in the world’s media, not the least because, in the words of The Guardian, of his exotic private life. For example, one of his first Presidential acts was booting his wife out of the Presidential Palace and replacing her with a former Miss Universe, 35 years his junior.

Reading this brought back memories of his state visit to New Zealand, in 1998.
Menem was scheduled to fly into Auckland in late afternoon, then down to the Governor General’s Wellington residence for a state banquet.

I was a guest seated at a table with Helen Clarke, her husband and Steve O’Regan. Then news came through that Menem was not now coming because of bad weather, which was nonsense, but as subsequently revealed, he’d got his priorities right and opted for the more appealing option of getting to a hotel with his former Miss Universe. Who can blame him?

To their credit Prime Minister Jenny Shipley and the Governor General announced we’d carry on with the banquet which was great news as gone was the tedious prospect of pompous speeches.

Helen and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves taunting Steve (Sir Tipene) through the evening by thinking up suitable tortures she could inflict upon him when she became Prime Minister the next year.

Argentina reminds me of Lebanon, two fantastic countries perpetually wrecked by corruption and political incompetence.


I love irony.
Glad you enjoyed a meal with dear Helen.
To quote.
“Argentina reminds me of Lebanon, two fantastic countries perpetually wrecked by corruption and political incompetence.”

Coming to a country near you as we sit, pontificate and listen to the orchestra while tamaki makaurau (our largest centre and used to be Auckland) looks on silently and Aotearoa (used to be NZ) sinks under the Socialists Captains hand.

    We are due for a name change. Aotearoa is a recent manifestation…so how about a dose of realism as our leader cuddles up to China..

    NEW. XI LAND. Our largest trading partner will be pleased and so will the former leader of the socialist youth league.

Education became an industry some time ago, and its decay is symptomatic of a decaying economy.

$20 billions of exported profits for a country with a GDP of some $300 billion has got to have some knock on side effects.

We’re being done over by key infrastructure industry controlled by overseas interests, and the politicians (from all parties) continue to pamper to them.

The flight with Menem and his entourage was turned around after the airport was closed due to bad weather / high winds. They did attempt a landing but aborted. My wife was arriving from Australia and was on the last plane to land that day – after a go around when the first sideways landing attempt was abandoned.
The pilots who know Wellington airport well know not to bother with the aesthetics of landing gently in a good Wellington “breeze”.

    Is my memory correct, that it was reported on at the time that the plane was being thrown around so much that some people started panicking, and Pres. Menem jumped up and gave a short “calm down” speech?

Correct. Argentina is a fantastic place to visit but the level of corruption, intrigue, judicial killings etal is mind boggling. Evita and Juan showed the way…the people adored them which suggests the population was on a death wish. The war in the Falklands was foolish. In 2008 ex Malvinas soldiers were protesting in BA looking for compensation.

Beirut used to be known as “the Paris of the Middle East”. Now Paris is well on the way to resembling Beirut. Such a shame for both cities 🙁

Argentina needs a Trump.

    Brazil has Bolsonaro, doesn’t it? So it is possible in Latin America

    Agreed Andrew, Argentina does not have a Trump. But Brazil lucked-in and got a Trump clone for president recently; Jair Bolsonaro. He declared Covid a non-problem that would soon go away. He’s got Brazil charging up the leader board in deaths per capita and currently has them as almost the only country with new cases increasing.
    Every country needs a Trump. He (and Bolsonaro) have done wonders for population control. Interestingly both USA and Brazil now have declining life expectancy stats. Trump’s innovative way of reducing the world’s over population crises is genius. I’m surprised the Greens aren’t advocating his “Ignore Covid it’ll Go Away” strategy.

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