Fernando "Chupete" de la Rúa is an Argentinian former president whose time in office was fairly short, but not as short as that of the ones that took his place right after his fall. Previously he had been the chief of government of Buenos Aires (like a mayor, but with more attributions, as Buenos Aires is an autonomous city) and a senator. To a lesser extent, he is also known for being Shakira's ex-father-in-law.
He was born in the capital city of Córdoba (which is called, to keep things simple, Córdoba too) in September 1937, got his law degree at 21 and a phD some time later. He has been a member of the UCR since a very young age, and was part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs from 1963 to 1966, during Arturo Illia's presidency.
Government of Buenos Aires
Before the constitutional reform of 1994, the mayor of Buenos Aires was named by the president, who at that time was Carlos Menem.
So in 1996 Fernando de la Rúa became the first Jefe de gobierno of the city with about 40% of the votes. During his three years in office he earned a good reputation due to his honesty, respect for the democratic institutions and management skills (ironically, he is now remembered as one of Argentina's most inefficient presidents).
In 1997 the UCR and the FREPASO (a center-left party formed a couple of years earlier by former peronists, socialists and christian democrats) joined, giving birth to the Alianza para el Trabajo, la Justicia y la Educación (known simply as La Alianza, so that you wouldn't forget its name while saying it). De la Rúa became its presidential candidate for the elections of 1999, and in his TV spots he promised to put an end to the widespread corruption of Carlos Menem's neoliberal administration. One of them started with him saying "Dicen que soy aburrido" - that phrase stuck, and is remembered by all of us up to these days.
He went on to win with nearly half of the total votes (48.37%), with Carlos "Chacho" Álvarez as his vice president. I remember I was really happy that day, even my 10 year-old self knew that Menem was evil (a smaller version of Silvio Berlusconi if you will) and we had faith that this old-new guy
would fix things.
But, as they say, he became the captain of the Titanic. He had inherited a negative budget balance, an astronomical external debt and a high recession rate, a consequence of maintaining a fake equality between Pesos (Argentinian currency) and dollars.
Not even one year had passed when things started to get messy: rumors about bribes paid in the senate to pass a labor market reform started to spread, and Chacho Álvarez took his leave. The trial, in which de la Rúa is involved, still goes on (right now they're talking about it on the news).
In 2001 the bomb that had been set up during the previous decade went off (metaphorically speaking, of course), and de la Rúa couldn't prevent it. It ended up with the Argentine Economic Crisis.
There were 7 general strikes during that year (I remember not attending school for two weeks), half the voters didn't vote, or voted null or blank in the legislative elections, unemployment skyrocketed (reaching 18%), supermarkets and other stores were looted by poor people, and the middle class took the streets. On December 20th de la Rúa resigned and abandoned the government house (known as la Casa Rosada) on a helicopter, which was the only way for him to get past the riot.
Ten and a half years later, his political career is dead, though you can never know for sure - people have a poor memory (for example, Menem - deemed one of the worst presidents ever - is now a senator). Some say he was dumb, disoriented and even corrupt, while other people say he was a honest guy who just arrived at a terrible time in history.
SourcesBiography - CIDOP
FREPASO - Wikipedia
Diario La Nación