Former Argentine Economy Minister Juan Vital Sourrouille (1985-1989) has died because of colon cancer at the age of 80, it was reported.
Sourrouille served under President Raúl Alfonsín and masterminded the preparation of the short-lived Austral Plan, a revolutionary program to cut down inflation which involved changing the country's currency from pesos to australes.
He had also been Secretary of Planning between 1983 and 1985, when the country returned to democratic rule.
With the Austral Plan, three zeros were removed from the currency (Argentine Pesos) and a new monetary sign called Austral was created, together with a de-indexation of all contracts.
The Austral Plan managed to lower inflation at first but a rampant fiscal deficit starting in 1987 led to a debt default in April 1988, aggravated by a sharp rise in international interest rates. After months of crisis, Sourrouille managed to partially stabilize the economy, through the so-called Spring Plan, but by February 3, 1989, electricity shortages and a steep devaluation prompted his resignation which only heralded that of Alfonsín in early July that year, just months before the end of his term in December.
The country's historic hyperinflation and unrest led most political forces to bring forward the inauguration of then President-elect Carlos Menem.
Since his resignation on March 31, 1989, Sourrouille withdrew from public life.
Alfonsín's collapse was also that of his Unión Cívica Radical (UCR) party which has managed to reach the president twice since then but only as a small part within greater coalitions. In 1999 Fernando De la Rúa was elected as part of the Alianza ticket with a group of dissident Peronists, but that political project too was short-lived after the Peronist Vice President Carlos Álvarez resigned.
Since 2015, the UCR is a subsection of former President Mauricio Macri's political alliance which has run under various names openly admitting the presence of more than once group, such as Juntos por el Cambio (Together for a change).
We deeply regret the death of Juan Vital Sourrouille, Raúl Alfonsín's former Minister of Economy. We convey our condolences to his family and loved ones, the National Committee of the UCR said on its Twitter account.
The UCRist Alfredo Cornejo, former governor of the province Mendoza and current national deputy, said: “I received with sadness the news of the death of Juan Vital Sourrouille, former Minister of Economy of Raúl Alfonsín. I send my condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time ”.
And Deputy Mario Negri, from Córdoba's UCR wrote that It is with great regret that I bid farewell to the one I admired so much: Juan Vital Sourrouille. A complete, honest man, with an unblemished commitment to democracy. He was a key man in the government of Raúl Alfonsín. RIP.