Death and state funeral of Raúl Alfonsín
People during the funeral of Alfonsín, at the Argentine Congress
|Date||March 31, 2009|
|Venue||Palace of the Argentine National Congress, La Recoleta Cemetery|
|Location||Buenos Aires, Argentina|
Raúl Alfonsín was the president of Argentina from 1983 to 1989. He died on March 31, 2009, aged 82. He had lung cancer and died at his home; a massive candlelight vigil took place in the vicinity of it. Vice president Julio Cobos, the acting president at the time, arranged three days of national mourning and a state funeral at the Palace of the Argentine National Congress. Alfonsín was seen by 40,000 people and the senior politicians of the country; people from other countries also voiced their respect for him. A military escort took his coffin to the La Recoleta Cemetery, and left him at the pantheon for the veterans of the Revolution of the Park.
Health and death
Alfonsín had lung cancer for almost a year before his death, which led to pneumonia. His medic Alejandro Sandler explained that his health had worsened at several points, which were followed by brief recoveries. In his last days he was visited by vice president Julio Cobos and monsignor Justo Laguna, who gave him the Anointing of the Sick. He received home care, as Sandler preferred him to stay with his family. The president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was out of the country and phoned several times; Ricardo Alfonsín called her at 17:00 and informed her of his father's health. He died on March 31, 2009, at 20:30; Sandler announced it at 21:03. Alfonsín was sleeping at the moment, next to his family. Cobos was the first politician to arrive at his home.
When the first news of the death of Alfonsín were released, the vicinity of his house at the Santa Fe avenue was filled by hundreds of people, who started a Candlelight vigil. The multitude included friends, neighbors and political supporters. The politicians Felipe Solá and Ricardo Gil Lavedra attended the meeting as well. The balconies of nearby houses were filled with flowers and banners.
The president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was out of the country at the moment, and although she arranged an early return, she could not return to the country in time for the funeral. As a result, the vice president Julio Cobos arranged the state funeral of Alfonsín, alongside Eduardo Fellner (president of the Chamber of deputies) and José Pampuro (acting president of the Senate). His widow, former First Lady of Argentina María Lorenza Barreneche, was unable to attend her husband's public state funeral due to her own declining health.
As a former Argentine president, his body was displayed at the Blue Hall of the Palace of the Argentine National Congress. He also set three days of national mourning, from March 31 to April 2. Daniel Scioli, governor of the Buenos Aires Province (birthplace of Alfonsín), also announced a provincial mourning. Almost a thousand people attended, and at some moments they sang the Argentine National Anthem.
The people were allowed to enter to the Congress on April 1, 10:00. Initially, it was intended to keep the Congress open until 20:00, but the number of people attending it forced to delay it for the morning of April 2. The event was attended by the former presidents Carlos Menem, Fernando de la Rúa, Eduardo Duhalde and Néstor Kirchner, all the members of the Supreme Court of Argentina, mayor Mauricio Macri, governor Daniel Scioli, the president of Uruguay Tabaré Vázquez and several other politicians. The Congress was visited by almost 40,000 people. It was the largest state funeral in Argentina since the death of Juan Perón in 1974.
There was a ceremony afterwards with speeches from politicians from Alfonsín's tenure and from the Kirchner administration. The ceremony was aired in cadena nacional. It was followed by a mass given by José María Arancedo, archbishop of Santa Fe. Finally, a procession in the Callao Avenue with a military escort took the corpse to the La Recoleta Cemetery. People threw flowers to the coffin, fly Argentine and radical flags, and sung the national anthem. He was left in the pantheon for the veterans of the Revolution of the Park, until he got a special one for himself.
Twenty-two Argentine bishops at the Holy See held a mass for Alfonsín as well. It was at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, and was attended by the Argentine ambassador Juan Pablo Cafiero, the Italian monsignor Giuseppe Laterza and the Argentine monsignor Guillermo Karcher. The bishops met Pope Benedict XVI the following day.
The living former presidents of Argentina sent their condolences for Alfonsín. Carlos Menem said that his death was a great loss for democracy. He also wrote an editorial for the La Nación newspaper, titled "Un viejo adversario saluda a un amigo" (Spanish: An old adversary salutes a friend), mirroring the famous quotation of the radical leader Ricardo Balbín during the funeral of Perón. Fernando de la Rúa said that "he fought all his life for politics and democracy. He raised up the values of democracy. Respect and affection were always present in him". Eduardo Duhalde described him as a family friend, and said Argentina lost a great man. Néstor Kirchner praised the trial of the Juntas. He also received condolences of José Sarney, Patricio Aylwin and Julio María Sanguinetti, contemporary presidents of Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. The governments of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, United States and Uruguay also sent messages of condolences.
Ricardo López Murphy, minister of economy of president Fernando de la Rúa, said that Alfonsín was "the man who fought for our democracy and the strengthening of institutions, during a time of conflicts and polarizations that our society was merged into". Cristian Ritondo, legislator of the Republican Proposal, said that "Alfonsín was the main actor of the return of democracy to Argentina. He was a sinonym of work, responsibility and patriotism". Gerardo Morales said that "when we were young in 1983 and sang 'we are life, we are peace', it was more than a slogan, it was a synthesis of our hopes: do not suffer more persecutions, live in democracy, in freedom and peace. We were part of the collective project led by Alfonsín". Elisa Carrió pointed that she had political disputes with him, but respected him nonetheless. Julio César Strassera, judge of the trial of the juntas, hoped that Alfonsín would be remembered as a great democrat. Daniel Scioli, governor of the Buenos Aires province, praised that he died with a complete peace of mind. Mauricio Macri, mayor of Buenos Aires, considered that he must have died in peace, after fulfilling his goals.
- Clifford Kraus (31 March 2009). "Raúl Alfonsín, 82, Former Argentine Leader, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
- "Se agrava el estado de salud de Raúl Alfonsín: recibió a monseñor Laguna" [The health of Raúl Alfonsín gets worse: he received monsignor Laguna] (in Spanish). Perfil. March 31, 2009. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
- "Cobos decretó tres días de Duelo Nacional" [Cobos decreed three days of national mourning]. La Nación (in Spanish). March 31, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
- "Se agravó la salud de Raúl Alfonsín" [The health of Raúl Alfonsín worsened]. La Nación (in Spanish). March 31, 2009. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
- ""Murió quedándose dormido", afirmó su médico" ["He died falling asleep", said his medic]. La Nación (in Spanish). March 31, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
- "Murió Raúl Alfonsín" [Raúl Alfonsín died] (in Spanish). Perfil. April 1, 2009. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
- "Cientos de personas se congregan en la casa de Alfonsín" [Hundreds of people gather at the house of Alfonsín]. La Nación (in Spanish). April 1, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
- "Cristina Kirchner adelantó la vuelta de Londres" [Cristina Kirchner speed up her return from London]. La Nación (in Spanish). April 1, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
- "Murió María Lorenza Barrenechea, la esposa de Raúl Alfonsín". Clarín (Argentine newspaper). 2016-01-06. Retrieved 2016-01-10.
- "Un homenaje multitudinario en la calle" [A populated homage in the streets]. La Nación (in Spanish). April 1, 2009. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
- "Será velado en el Congreso a partir de las 10" [He will be mourned in the Congress at 10:00]. La Nación (in Spanish). April 1, 2009. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
- "Continúa la despedida multitudinaria de Alfonsín en el Congreso" [The populated goodbye to Alfonsín at the Congress continues]. La Nación (in Spanish). April 2, 2009. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
- "Llantos, nostalgia y reclamos en el emotivo adiós" [Crying, nostalgia and petitions in the emotive last goodbye]. La Nación (in Spanish). April 2, 2009. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
- Gustavo Ybarra (April 2, 2009). "Multitudinaria despedida a Alfonsín" [Multitudinarie last goodbye to Alfonsín]. La Nación (in Spanish). Retrieved August 19, 2015.
- "Emotivos discursos de despedida en el Congreso" [Emotive last goodbye speeches at the Congress]. La Nación (in Spanish). April 2, 2009. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
- "Tras innumerables expresiones de afecto, el cuerpo del ex presidente descansa en Recoleta" [After countless displays of affection, the corpse of the ex president lies in Recoleta]. La Nación (in Spanish). April 3, 2009. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
- "Continúa la despedida multitudinaria de Alfonsín en el Congreso" [The miltutudinarie goodbye to Alfonsín at the Congress continues]. La Nación (in Spanish). April 2, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
- "Italia: obispos argentinos celebraron una misa por el líder radical" [Italy: Argentine bishops held a mass for the radical leader]. La Nación (in Spanish). April 1, 2009. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
- "Ex presidentes manifestaron su pesar por el adiós de un hombre "de la democracia"" [Ex presidents manifested their sorrow for the goodbye to a man of democracy]. La Nación (in Spanish). April 1, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
- Carlos Menem (April 2, 2009). "Un viejo adversario saluda a un amigo" [An old adversary salutes a friend]. La Nación (in Spanish). Retrieved August 19, 2015.
- "El último saludo de referentes políticos" [The last goodbye of political leaders]. La Nación (in Spanish). April 1, 2009. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
- "Los ex presidentes" [The ex presidents]. La Nación (in Spanish). April 1, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
- "Líderes mundiales envían sus condolencias" [Global leaders send their condolences]. La Nación (in Spanish). April 1, 2009. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
- "Profundo pesar en el ámbito político por la muerte del ex presidente" [Deep pain in politics for the death of the ex-president]. La Nación (in Spanish). April 1, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
- "Carrió: "Marcó una generación"" [Carrió: "He marked a whole generation"]. La Nación (in Spanish). March 31, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
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