BUENOS AIRES, DEC. 4 -- The Argentine capital returned to normal today after a one-day uprising by rebellious troops who intended to weaken President Carlos Menem's government but may have ended up strengthening it instead.
Workers quickly cleared the streets of barricades and armored vehicles in preparation for the scheduled arrival of President Bush Wednesday for a one-day visit. Bush and Menem plan to meet in offices just a stone's throw from the scene of some of Monday's most intense fighting.
Menem received widespread support from political leaders for his tough handling of the insurrection, which was the fourth since democracy returned in 1983. Rather than negotiate with the rebellious officers and soldiers, as former president Raul Alfonsin did on three occasions, Menem ordered them attacked.
"All this is definitely over . . . these ridiculous antics that have harmed the country so much," Menem said.
At least 13 and perhaps as many as 18 persons were killed and more than 60 were reported injured. At least 200 were arrested as mutineers after surrendering to loyal troops.
The man believed to have inspired or led the revolt, Col. Mohamed Ali Seineldin, remained at a remote military base where he has been under detention for two months for insubordination.
Defense Minister Humberto Romero told the daily Clarin that after following the news of Monday's events for a while, Seineldin "asked to be given a pistol so he could commit suicide, but his request was not granted."
The consensus seemed to be that the rebels had made a grave error with this latest attempt to undermine the civilian government. It became evident Monday that they had angered not only the public, but many of their fellow officers as well, even those who may have shared some of the rebels' complaints.
Gen. Martin Balza, who led the push to take back the 1st Infantry Regiment, was overheard telling a subordinate by radio: "In some sense this was predictable. But this time we're coming after them in earnest. We're tired of them."
On the eve of the Bush visit, a small bomb exploded outside a Bank of Boston branch here and another explosive device was defused near a British bank in the city of La Plata, 40 miles away. But the bombs, which caused no injuries, were believed the work of leftist radicals rather than right-wing army colonels.