Former president of Chile dies in helicopter crash

 February 7, 2024

Two-time former Chilean President Sebastián Piñera died on Tuesday in a helicopter accident at age 74, Chile Interior Minister Carolina Tohá confirmed to the press.

Piñera was traveling with three other people over Lake Ranco in southern Chile when the crash occurred. The three others swam to shore and survived the crash, but Piñera's body had to be recovered by the Chilean Navy.

It is possible that Piñera was piloting the helicopter as he often did in the past, but that detail was not confirmed.

Piñera was president of Chile from 2010 to 2014, then again from 2018 to 2022.

Piñera's presidencies

His first term was consumed by recovery from an earthquake and tsunami that killed 525 people as well as a mining accident that left 33 miners trapped underground for three months.

His second term was dominated by COVID-19 and exacerbated by a minor subway fare hike that led to massive protests over social inequality.

Piñera deployed the military to deal with the protests, but that only made it worse as clashes erupted.

Current President of Chile Gabriel Boric declared three days of mourning for Piñera, who he said “genuinely sought what he believed was best for the country” during a televised announcement about his death.

Piñera's background

Piñera was a billionaire businessman and economist. He brought credit cards to Chile in the 1970s and 80s, and was also involved in real estate and broadcasting.

He had a stake in the country's LATAM Airlines as well before he entered politics.

Before running for president, he handed the management of his businesses off to others to avoid any conflicts of interest.

His family's net worth was estimated by Forbes to be $2.7 billion at the time of his death.

He was a conservative or at least center-right politician who created an estimated 1 million jobs during his tenure as president, despite the serious emergencies he also had to deal with.

Chile's government is a dictatorship, although movements have been trying to change this structure. So far, two charters that were proposed have failed, however.

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