The Alfonsinins had 6 children.
He died at the age of 82, after being diagnosed a year before with lung cancer and enduring a surgery intervention in the United States. He died peacefully in his home, surrounded by his family. Argentina declared three days of national mourning following his death through 2 April 2009.
Alfonsin founded the newspaper "El Imparcial" in his native town of Chascomus. After serving for a decade in provincial politics, he was elected to the National Congress (1963) under a UCR president, who later fell victim to a military takeover (1966). Alfonsin ran unsuccessfully for the UCR nomination in the 1973 presidential election, which was won by a candidate from the rival Peronist party who was later overthrown by the military (1976). In response to human rights abuses perpetrated by state security forces during the ensuing regime, Alfonsin wrote “The Argentine Question” in 1981 and cofounded the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights. After the United Kingdom defeated Argentina in the Falkland Islands War (1982), the discredited military allowed a freely contested presidential election (1983), in which Alfonsin, as the UCR candidate, defeated the Peronist contender.
Although his presidency was plagued by high inflation, severe national debt, labour disputes, and a discontented military, Alfonsin remained committed to democracy. In an attempt to stabilize the economy, he negotiated loans from the International Monetary Fund and introduced an economic program, the Austral Plan (1985), that met with limited success. He prosecuted members of the armed forces for the human rights abuses of the late 1970s, and several high-ranking officials, including former Argentine presidents Jorge Rafaél Videla (1976–81) and Roberto Viola (1981), received life prison sentences.
By the last year of his term, Argentina's economy was in crisis, with soaring inflation rates and a devalued currency. Alfonsin resigned six months before his term ended and was succeeded by Carlos Saul Menem, a Peronist.
After leaving office, Alfonsín remained an influential figure and was active in national politics and in the affairs of the UCR. In 1992 he established the Argentine Foundation for the Freedom of Information. He also served as a member of the South American Peace Commission and as a vice president of Socialist International, a worldwide organization of social democratic, socialist, and labour parties. In 2001 Alfonsín was elected senator for Buenos Aires province, but he resigned after one year to focus on rebuilding the UCR.
With democracy we eat, with democracy we educate, with democracy we heal.
Argentina has developed a culture of democracy no one can now undo: the merest attempt would fill every plaza in the Republic with the awesome sight of the people demanding the protection of any legal right, if for but one individual.
No president has the right to endlessly demand sacrifices from his people.
Ideas go on, men don’t. Men succeed or fail, but it is the ideas that transform themselves into torches that keep democracy alive.