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Monday, February 26, 2024

Former President Piñera dies in helicopter accident

Dhe former Chilean president Sebastián Piñera (74) died in a helicopter accident on Tuesday. The accident occurred in the popular holiday resort of Lago Ranco, 920 kilometers south of the capital Santiago de Chile, his office said. “It is with great regret that we announce the death of the former President of the Republic of Chile,” the statement said.

The newspapers “La Nacion” and “La Tercera” initially reported on the accident, citing diplomatic circles. Accordingly, the former head of government is said to have sat at the controls of the helicopter with which he frequently travels. As Chilean Interior Minister Carolina Toha explained at a press conference, the helicopter crashed into a lake in the Los Lagos region. Three people were injured in the accident, but were able to swim to shore. Piñera, on the other hand, was trapped in the wreck. His body was later recovered by rescue workers.

Piñera leaves behind his wife Cecilia Morel and four children.

First right-wing president after the end of the Pinochet dictatorship

Toha announces a national period of mourning. Piñera should therefore be given “all honors and republican recognitions” “that he deserves”. The current Chilean President Gabriel Boric ordered a state funeral.

A supporter of the late president lays flowers at his home in Santiago.

A supporter of the late president lays flowers at his home in Santiago.

Image: dpa

The conservative politician and billionaire ruled Chile for two terms from 2010 to 2014 and from 2018 to 2022. Born in Santiago in 1949, he studied economics at Harvard, among other things, but then returned to his home country to teach at a university. In the 1980s he founded a credit card company and became a shareholder in the airline LAN Airlines (now LATAM Airlines) and a private Chilean television station. Before his election in 2010, he sold the shares.

Piñera made a name for himself politically when he openly opposed the form of government of the then Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet at the end of the 1980s. Through him, the right wing in the country oriented itself away from authoritarianism and towards a more economically liberal attitude. Piñera later became the South American country’s first right-wing president after the end of the Pinochet dictatorship in 1990.

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