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Saturday, 6 January, 2001, 11:50 GMT
Why men envy Menem
Cecilia Bolocco (left) and Carlos Menem with Menem's brother Eduardo and his wife
Menem (second left) and Bolocco enjoy the limelight
By the BBC's South America correspondent James Reynolds

Argentina's former president, Carlos Menem, stepped down from office over a year ago, but he has no intention of retiring.

Mr Menem plans to run for president in three years' time, and he has come up with an unusual way of keeping himself in the public eye.

The former president, now 70, has started a highly public relationship with a Chilean television presenter who is a former Miss Universe.

A year ago, he was seen as a man with a fairly limited future.

Many saw his flamboyant, extravagant style as somewhat out of date.

He was replaced as president by Fernando de la Rua, a man who promised to bring in a rather more austere age to the country.

Beautiful women

But over the past year, Mr Menem has managed to hang on to attention through the high-profile pursuit of one of his stated interests - the company of beautiful women.

In June, Mr Menem was photographed on holiday with Chilean television presenter Cecilia Bolocco.

Miss Bolocco is a former Miss Universe, with the looks and glamour that tend to go with that position.

She is much taller than Mr Menem, and she's also half his age.

Since these photographs were shown, newspapers and magazines in both Chile and Argentina have provided daily updates on the relationship between the two, gradually working their way through the couple's respective families for comment, gossip and hearsay.

Sharing the limelight

The couple at the centre of events don't appear to be particularly shy about using their joint fame to promote their respective careers.

Just a few weeks ago, Mr Menem and Miss Bolocco, wearing matching outfits, attended the launch of each other's websites.

Their relationship has served to keep Carlos Menem in the public eye.

Some even say that's what it's all about.

It is three years until presidential elections are held in Argentina.

Mr Menem has made it clear that he intends to run for the office he held for more than a decade.

By many accounts, having Chile's former Miss Universe by his side may do him some good in the polls.

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27 Oct 99 | Americas
Menem blamed for Peronists' defeat
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