Sebastian Piñerathe former president of Chile who faced in his second term the social outbreak of Chileans to change the structures of the State and the COVID-19 pandemic, died on Tuesday in a helicopter accident in Lago Ranco, in the Chilean region of Los Ríos. She was 74 years old.
The country’s Minister of the Interior, Carolina Toháconfirmed the death of the former president when he was flying over that area, more than 900 kilometers south of the capital Santiago, and said that the president Gabriel Boric He arranged a state funeral and national mourning. No further details have been released about the causes of the accident.
“He was the democratic president of Chile on two occasions and will have all the republican honors and recognitions he deserves,” announced the minister, who also reported that three people survived the accident and that the body of the former president was recovered. “We recently had confirmation from the Carabineros that tells us that the Navy was able to reach where the accident occurred and recover the body of the former president who has died.”
Piñera, with a center-right tendency, He governed in two periods. In the first, from 2010 to 2014, he had to undertake the reconstruction of an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale and subsequent tsunami that left 525 dead in the south of the country.
In his second term, from 2018 to 2022, he faced the massive mobilizations of Chileans in a social outbreak that led to two failed attempts to replace the current Constitution, inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
Upon the announcement of his unexpected death, the world’s media They did not take long to report the accident on their front pages.
“Former Chilean president Sebastián Piñera dies in a helicopter accident,” was the title that was replicated – with subtle variations – in almost all news portals, from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, the BBC, even El País from Spain and Or Globe.
“Piñera, a billionaire businessman and investor, governed Chile for two terms, one of which was marked by violent anti-government protests,” he wrote. The Wall Street Journal.
The New York Times, who illustrated the article with an image of Piñera walking through the streets of Santiago with the bag on his shoulder, highlighted that the former Chilean president “helped strengthen the country’s young democracy after becoming its first conservative leader since a military dictatorship.”
For its part, Washington Post described him as “a billionaire center-right politician,” whose second term “was marked by major protests over social inequality and two opposition-led attempts to remove him from office.”
Guardian highlighted “one of the highlights of his first administration, frequently promoted by Piñera himself,” which was “the spectacular rescue in 2010 of 33 miners trapped under the Atacama Desert. The event became a global media sensation and was the subject of a 2014 film, The 33″.
cnn He highlighted that Piñera “presided over the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, where the Andean nation of 19 million inhabitants recorded one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.”
Politician, businessman and owner of one of the largest fortunes in the South American country, estimated at about 3 billion dollarsPiñera ran for the Presidency of Chile three times.
In 2006, he lost to the socialist Michelle Bachelet; Then in 2010 he defeated former president Eduardo Frei and was elected for the period 2010-2014. Four years later, in 2018, he won a second term, until 2022, after defeating a left-wing independent. In his two terms, he faced several complicated episodes such as an earthquake, the COVID-19 pandemic and the social outbreak.
He closed his term with a Gross Domestic Product of 5.3% and created one million jobs, driven by reconstruction.
In the middle of his second government, in October 2019, he faced a violent social outbreak followed by massive protests against the education, health and pension models installed by the military dictatorship, demands to which the center-left opposition added the demand for a new Constitution, an idea rejected by Piñera.
The protests were repressed by the police, with strong questions for human rights violations, according to coincident reports from international humanitarian organizations. Finally, Piñera gave in to the pressure of the mobilizations and called a plebiscite in 2020 in which 78% of the electorate demanded the elaboration of a new Magna Carta to replace that of the military. In the middle, the pandemic arrived that delayed the constitutional process.
During the COVID-19 health crisis, its government negotiated early with multiple laboratories for the purchase of coronavirus vaccines – when they had not yet been developed – which placed Chile among the five countries that led the world in vaccination at the beginning of the pandemic.
As a businessman, towards the end of the 70s, he fully entered the private sector in the financial field and then expanded into real estate. He brought credit cards to Chile and created a company that was the largest emitter of plastics, in addition to having participation in multiple companies, several family ones.
In the 1990s he had a shareholding in the airline Lan Chile, now LATAM, and in the main telecommunications company, as well as in real estate, electricity, in the main local soccer team of the time and owned a television channel, among other firms.
A commercial engineer and doctor in Economics, he was also an academic at several universities for almost 20 years and a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank.
Voted against the extension of the dictator’s power Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), he was an independent senator in the 90s and in 2009 he handed over the management of his businesses to others and entered politics representing the center-right, which was the civilian support of the military regime.
(With information from AP)