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Sebastián Piñera, former president of Chile, killed in helicopter crash



Associated Press

VIÑA DEL MAR, Chile — Sebastián Piñera, the two-time former president of Chile who faced social upheaval followed by a pandemic in his second term, died Tuesday in a helicopter crash. He was 74.

Chile Interior Minister Carolina Tohá confirmed the death of the former president. No further details were immediately released about the cause of the accident, which came as the country was recovering from massive deadly wildfires in a central region.

Serving as president from 2010 to 2014 and again from 2018 to 2022, Piñera led the South American nation during devastating natural disasters, including the fallout of an earthquake and a tsunami.

He also governed during the coronavirus pandemic and placed Chile among the top five countries for vaccination rates for the illness.

His legacy is marred by violent police repression in October 2019 against protesters who were demonstrating against the country’s education, health and pension systems dating to the country’s 1973-90 military dictatorship. International organizations cited mass violations of human rights in the crackdown.

The social unrest ultimately led to two attempts to update the constitution inherited from the military government, but both have failed.

Piñera was the owner of the fifth-largest fortune in Chile, estimated at some $3 billion. He worked as an academic in several universities for almost 20 years and as a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank.

As a businessman in the 1970s through the 1990s, he worked in a variety of industries, including real estate. He held shares in major airlines, telecommunication, real estate and electricity companies. He also created one of the largest credit card companies in the country. In 2009, he handed over the management of his businesses to others.


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