Sebastián Piñera, the former president of Chile, passed away on Tuesday afternoon after the helicopter he was traveling in crashed in the commune of Lago Ranco, in the Los Ríos region in the south of the country. The former president was accompanied by his sister, businessman Ignacio, and his son. The helicopter was piloted by Piñera himself, who was unable to remove his belt, while the other three passengers managed to swim to shore.
The accident occurred in Lago Ranco, in the south of Chile, during a day of rain and fog. Emergency agents, the Navy, firefighters, Carabineros, and the Emergency Medical Care Service (Samu) responded to the scene. Piñera, who had a house on Lake Rango and was on vacation, was twice president of Chile (2010-2014 and 2018-2022).
The first international leader to remember Piñera was the president of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou, who expressed his condolences to the Chileans and his family. Former president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, also expressed his sadness for the loss of his friend and notable leader. Former president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, remembered Piñera as a good personal friend and a great ally of Colombia.
Piñera’s career was marked by extensive involvement in the stock market world, where he amassed one of the largest fortunes in the country. He was one of the ten wealthiest Chileans, with an estimated net worth of 2.7 billion dollars in 2017. Born in Santiago de Chile in 1949, Piñera began his political career as a senator representing Santiago Oriente from 1990 to 1998. He had three presidential candidacies, being elected in two of them, in 2009 and in 2017.
During his two terms as president, Piñera faced significant challenges, including the social crisis of October 2019, which considerably reduced his approval to 6%, the lowest level recorded for a president in Chile. However, his management was also recognized for effective responses to natural emergencies such as the rescue at the San José mine and the post-earthquake reconstruction of 2010, as well as management during the COVID-19 pandemic and the promotion of public sports policies and health.
His first term began on March 11, 2010, and during his campaign, he installed seven axes as pillars of his management: equal opportunities, strengthening trust in democratic institutions, strengthening individual rights and freedoms, strengthening regions and communes, strengthening middle class entrepreneurship, participation in a globalized world, and care for the environment. His first moments at the head of the country occurred in a climate of tension after an earthquake and a tsunami that left the center and south of the country devastated.
Piñera’s passing is a great loss for Chile and the international community. His legacy as a leader and his contributions to Chilean politics and society will be remembered for years to come.
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