Sebastián Piñera: Former president of Chile dies in helicopter crash
Sebastián Piñera, the former President of Chile who served two terms and was also a billionaire businessman, has passed away in a helicopter accident at the age of 74.
While three other individuals survived the crash, which occurred in a lake near the southern town of Lago Ranco, it remains unconfirmed whether Piñera was piloting the aircraft himself.
The nation has entered a period of mourning, with condolences pouring in from various political factions across Latin America.
During his initial term from 2010 to 2014, Piñera was recognized for driving rapid economic expansion. Internationally, he became renowned for orchestrating the remarkable rescue of 33 miners trapped for 69 days beneath the Atacama Desert in 2010, a story that captivated global attention.
However, his second presidential tenure, which spanned from 2018 until the previous year, was overshadowed by intense social unrest.
Piñera’s body was recovered by the Chilean navy following the crash, which took place in an area where, as reported by Spanish newspaper El País, he traditionally spent holidays with his family every February.
In response to the tragic event, Chile’s current President, Gabriel Boric, who represents the leftist political spectrum, offered a heartfelt tribute to Piñera while declaring three days of national mourning and announcing a state funeral.
“We are all Chile, and we must dream, visualize, and construct it together,” Boric expressed. “Sebastián Piñera spoke these words when he commenced his second presidential term on March 11, 2018. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones during this difficult period.”
Brazil’s leftist President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, conveyed his surprise and sorrow at Piñera’s untimely demise.
“We got along, we worked to strengthen the relationship between our countries and we always had a good dialogue, when we were both presidents, and also when we weren’t,” he wrote on X.
Argentina’s former conservative President Mauricio Macri said Piñera’s death was an “irreplaceable loss” and he felt “immense sadness” while Iván Duque, the former conservative president of Colombia, said he felt great sadness over the death of his friend.
In 2010, Piñera became Chile’s first conservative president since the end of military rule in 1990.
The Harvard-trained economist displaced the country’s first female President, Michelle Bachelet, promising to turn his business acumen to the country’s economic growth.
Born in 1949, he became one of Chile’s richest men, making much of his money in the 1980s when he introduced credit cards to Chile through his company Bancard.
He also invested in Chile’s biggest main airline, Lan Chile, the country’s top football club, Colo Colo, and a television channel.