Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Sebastián Piñera, the billionaire who introduced Chile’s political proper wing out from the shadow of former dictator Augusto Pinochet to win two separate phrases as president, died in a helicopter crash within the south of the nation. He was 74.

The helicopter went down in a lake within the Area de Los Lagos, Inside Minister Carolina Toha advised a press convention on Tuesday. Three folks had been injured and managed to swim to the shore, whereas Piñera was trapped within the wreckage. His physique was later recovered by rescue companies.

“So goes a very powerful and profitable right-wing chief within the historical past of Chile,” Mauricio Morales, a professor of political science at Chile’s Universidad de Talca, wrote on X, the platform previously often called Twitter. “His governments left extra lights than shadows.”

Piñera grew to become president in 2010 and once more in 2018, overseeing two intervals of progress, although the second was overshadowed by the worst social unrest in a era that paralyzed a lot of the nation.

One key to Piñera’s early political success was distancing his right-wing coalition from Pinochet’s 17-year dictatorship, which led to 1990, enabling it to unseat the center-left events that dominated the nation for 20 years. One of many few on the precise who voted in opposition to Pinochet in a 1988 plebiscite, Piñera helped mildew a brand new proper wing that centered extra on financial liberalism than Catholic conservatism and authoritarianism.

“Piñera was a controversial determine,” stated Kenneth Bunker, a professor at Universidad San Sebastian in Santiago. “He was a determine that even inside his personal sector by no means had broad assist. For the conservative proper, he was disruptive.”

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Nonetheless, many citizens simply backed him for his obvious financial Midas contact, hoping it will rub off on the nation normally.

Financial progress averaged 5.4% throughout his first time period because the nation was flooded with income from hovering copper costs. His second time period was much less profitable, with growth averaging 3%. The nation was additionally convulsed by avenue protests over inequality in late 2019 that solely ended with the arrival of the Covid pandemic.


Regional leaders together with Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Argentina’s Javier Milei despatched their condolences.

“I’ll at all times worth ex-President Piñera’s dedication to our nation and its democracy, in addition to his tireless work and repair for the nation,” former president and political opponent Michelle Bachelet stated in a press release.

Mourners stand subsequent to a photograph of Piñera with a Chilean flag throughout a memorial service at Renovación Nacional headquarters in Santiago on Feb. 6, 2024.Sebastián Vivallo Oñate—Agencia Makro/Getty Pictures

President Gabriel Boric stated Piñera would obtain a state funeral and declared three days of nationwide mourning.

“He was a democrat from the primary hour and genuinely appeared for what he believed was greatest for the nation,” Boric stated in televised feedback. 

Piñera could greatest be remembered on the worldwide scene for overseeing the rescue of 33 employees trapped in a copper mine in northern Chile for 69 days. Domestically, he can even be recalled for managing the rebuilding efforts after a devastating earthquake in 2010. An aftershock of that quake had interrupted his inauguration ceremony.

Enterprise empire

Born Dec. 1, 1949, in Santiago, Piñera attended the Catholic College of Chile, studied economics at Harvard College after which returned to Chile to show at a college.

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Over the following many years he grew to become a billionaire. At one time, he owned 27% of the airline LAN Chile—now Latam Airways—plus 90% of the Chilevision tv station and 13% of the Colo Colo soccer membership. He bought these holdings earlier than the 2009 presidential marketing campaign.

By the point he took workplace for a second time in 2018, most of his household’s wealth was in blind trusts.

Nonetheless, his enterprise profession was marked by a number of controversies. In 1982, whereas he was chief govt at Banco de Talca, he was accused of violating the nation’s banking legal guidelines and disappeared for twenty-four days. The Supreme Court docket later acquitted him of the costs. In 2007, Piñera was fined $700,000 for insider buying and selling. He didn’t attraction.

Piñera is survived by his spouse, Cecilia Morel, and their 4 kids.

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