For the second consecutive day, thousands of people lined up to say goodbye to former Chilean president Sebastián Piñera, who died in a helicopter accident, while the Government and the family finalize details for the State funeral to be held on Friday in the Cathedral of Santiago.
Chile remains shocked by the sudden death at the age of 74 of the person who was the first right-wing president after the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Piñera governed the country for two non-consecutive periods (2010-2014 and 2018-2022).
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“The impact has been very strong, we will have to assimilate it. I just want to thank all the people from all over Chile who have sent us love. It has really been very exciting and well deserved for Sebastián,” said his widow and former first lady, Cecilia Morel, upon leaving the wake.
Piñera was piloting the helicopter that crashed on Tuesday over Lake Ranco, an exclusive resort more than 800 kilometers south of the capital, where he spent summers with his family.
The three people who were traveling with him, including his sister Magdalena, managed to save themselves. The Prosecutor's Office is still investigating why the ship fell into the water.
The Chileans say goodbye to Sebastián Piñera
Representatives from across the political spectrum and anonymous citizens came to the former headquarters of the National Congress in Santiago, where the former president has been laid to rest since Wednesday, EFE reported.
His first term was marked by the reconstruction of the country after the devastating earthquake of 2010 and the rescue of the 33 miners trapped for more than two months in the San José Mine, in the north.
The former first lady, Cecilia Morel receives condolences at the old Congress of Santiago (Photo: REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido)By: REUTERS
Among the people who went to say goodbye and even stood guard in front of the coffin were four of the 33 miners, who were taken from the bowels of the earth in a miraculous and pharaonic rescue, which kept the world in suspense and was followed on the internet by a million people.
“We thank God that he never gave up. He always had faith that we were alive,” said Juan Carlos Aguilar, known as 'miner number 29', after the order in which he was rescued.
Also read: “You jump first”: they revealed what Sebastián Piñera's last words were before he died
“We owe him a lot. He was a president with a big heart and the legacy he left is very great,” added Esteban Rojas, the '18′ miner.
Several ministers from the Government of President Gabriel Boric also stood guard, something that sparked criticism in sectors of the most radical left, who harshly question Piñera for his management of the great social outbreak of 2019.
What will the state funeral of Sebastián Piñera be like?
The state funeral will be held on Friday at the Metropolitan Cathedral. The body will be buried later in the Parque del memoria cemetery, in the family crypt.
Piñera is the second former president to die after the return to democracy in 1990. The first was the Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin, leader of the Chilean transition, in 2016.
The Chilean Foreign Minister, Alberto van Klaveren, reported this Thursday that the three former Chilean presidents who are still alive will attend the funeral (Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Ricardo Lagos and Michelle Bachelet), as well as various international figures, such as former presidents Guillermo Lasso (Ecuador). and Mario Abdo Benítez (Paraguay).