The death of Sebastián Piñera in a helicopter accident shocked the Chilean political world.
The news of the death of the two-time president occurred at a time when the country is going through a wave of fires that caused at least 131 deaths in Viña del Mar and Valparaíso.
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Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echeñique, one of the richest businessmen in Chile, was president in two non-consecutive periods: first, between 2010 and 2014, and then, between 2018 and 2022, when he handed over control to the current president, Gabriel Boric.
In one of his last interviews, the former head of state told the newspaper La Tercera: “I want to collaborate as a former president so that the opposition can unite.” His wish was for the right to govern the country again.
“He will be remembered as a democratic president. He was affected by the great earthquake (in 2010 with more than 500 deaths) in his first government and the covid pandemic in his second,” analyst and founder of Latinobarómetro Marta Lagos told TN.
As he stated, “the right loses the only leader who was able to unite them to achieve the presidency. We'll see if there is anyone who can follow those steps. Many times in history the right has been divided without being able to come to power. He is the only president of the right after (Augusto) Pinochet,” Lagos indicated.
Who was Sebastián Piñera
Piñera was the first right-wing president to take office since the return of Chilean democracy. In addition, he was one of the founders of Renovación Nacional, the traditional group of the trans-Andean right. He was, without a doubt, one of the most influential politicians and businessmen in the country.
“We want to express our shock at this tragedy, send our solidarity hug to the former president's family, to all those close to him, but also to all Chileans, because Sebastián Piñera was President of Chile, democratic President of Chile on two occasions and It will result in all the republican honors and recognitions it deserves,” said the Minister of the Interior and Public Security, Carolina Tohá.
Sebastián Piñera (Photo: EFE).
Born in Santiago on December 1, 1949, Piñera was a commercial engineer and obtained a Master's degree and a doctorate in Economics from Harvard University. He was married since 1973 to Cecilia Morel, with whom he has four children.
For decades, he was one of the most successful businessmen in his country. In fact, he owned a construction company and in 1979 he created Bancard, a company that ended up bringing Visa and MasterCard credit cards to Chile. For many years he was known for being the main shareholder of the airline Lan Chile (currently Latam). He also owned the Chilevisión channel and the Blanco y Negro company, owner of Colo Colo, the most popular soccer club in the country.
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His closeness to politics inspired him since he was a child. Her father, former diplomat José Piñera Carvallo, was the founder of Christian Democracy, but the former president never joined that group.
Finally, his emergence into the world of politics occurred in the 1989 elections, which marked the return of democracy. He was then elected senator as an independent within the ranks of the National Renewal (right). After being sworn in as a legislator, he joined the ranks of that party.
Piñera was president when the earthquake hit Chile. (Photo: UPN Blog)
His first attempt to become president was in 1999, but he decided to decline his candidacy in favor of Joaquín Lavin. Piñera led Renovación Nacional between 2001 and 2004. That year, he resigned as party president. A year later he was a presidential candidate, but lost in the runoff against Michelle Bachelet. In 2010, he competed again and won the elections, defeating former president Eduardo Frei. He then gave his shares in the companies into a voluntary blind trust.
After leaving power four years later, Piñera resumed the presidency of the Futuro Foundation and headed the Avanza Chile foundation. In 2018, he was again a candidate for president and won the elections again in the second round against the leftist candidate Alejandro Guillier. In 2022, he handed over power to the current president, Gabriel Boric.
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