Sebastián Piñera

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Sebastián Piñera
Retrato Oficial Presidente Piñera 2018 (cropped7).jpg
Official presidential portrait of Piñera in 2018
34th and 36th President of Chile
Assumed office
11 March 2018
Preceded byMichelle Bachelet
In office
11 March 2010 – 11 March 2014
Preceded byMichelle Bachelet
Succeeded byMichelle Bachelet
President pro tempore of PROSUR
Assumed office
22 March 2019
Preceded byPosition established
President pro tempore of the Pacific Alliance
Assumed office
6 July 2019
Preceded byMartín Vizcarra
In office
5 March 2012 – 22 May 2013
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byEnrique Peña Nieto
President pro tempore of CELAC
In office
3 December 2011 – 28 January 2013
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byRaúl Castro
Leader of National Renewal
In office
26 May 2001 – 10 March 2004
Preceded byAlberto Cardemil
Succeeded bySergio Díez
Senator for Eastern Santiago
In office
11 March 1990 – 11 March 1998
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byCarlos Bombal
Personal details
Born
Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique

(1949-12-01) 1 December 1949 (age 70)
Santiago, Chile
Political partyNational Renewal (1989–2010)[a]
Independent (2010–present)
Other political
affiliations
Coalition for Change (2009–2013)
Chile Vamos (2015–present)
Spouse(s)
(m. 1973)
Children4
Alma materPontifical Catholic University of Chile
Harvard University
Signature
WebsiteOfficial website

Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique (Spanish: [miˈɣel ˈxwan seβasˈtjam piˈɲeɾa etʃeˈnike] (About this soundlisten); born 1 December 1949)[1][2] is a Chilean billionaire businessman, who is President of Chile since 2018, having previously served from 2010 to 2014.

The son of a Christian democratic politician and diplomat, he studied business engineering at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and economics at the Harvard University. He had an estimated net worth of 2.8 billion dollars in 2019 according to Forbes, making him one of the richest people in Chile.[3][4]

A member of the right-wing National Renewal party, he served as a senator for the East Santiago district from 1990 to 1998, running for the presidency in the 2005 election, which he lost to Michelle Bachelet, and again, successfully, in 2010. As a result, he became Chile's first conservative president to be democratically elected since 1958,[5] and the first to hold the office since the departure of Augusto Pinochet in 1990.[6]

Family[edit]

Piñera is the sixth child of the marriage between José Piñera Carvallo and Magdalena Echenique Rozas.[citation needed] Among his ancestors on his maternal side is his mother's great-great-grandmother, Luisa Pinto Garmendia, the sister of President Aníbal Pinto Garmendia and daughter of President Francisco Antonio Pinto and Luisa Garmendia Alurralde, who was a descendant of the penultimate Inca emperor, Huayna Capac.[7] He is a nephew of the former oldest living Roman Catholic bishop in the world, Bernardino Piñera, who died in 2020 due to complications from Covid-19.[8][9]

Education[edit]

Piñera's family moved to Belgium one year after his birth and later to New York City, where his father was the Chilean ambassador to the United Nations.[citation needed] Piñera returned to Chile in 1955 and enrolled in the Colegio del Verbo Divino ("Divine Word College"), from which he graduated in 1967.[10]

Piñera then matriculated at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, from which he graduated in 1971 with an undergraduate degree in commercial engineering. Upon graduation, he was awarded the Raúl Iver Oxley Prize, which is given to the best overall student of each class.[11]

Piñera continued on to Harvard University on a partial Fulbright Program for postgraduate studies in economics. During his time at Harvard, Piñera and a classmate coauthored an article, "The Old South's Stake in the Inter-Regional Movement of Slaves", for the Journal of Economic History.[12] After three years at Harvard, Piñera graduated with both an M.A. and PhD in Economics.[13]

Teaching career[edit]

Piñera was an economics lecturer from 1971 until 1988 at the University of Chile, the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, and Adolfo Ibáñez University. In 1971, he was in charge of Economic Political Theory in the School of Economics at the University of Chile and in 1972, at the Valparaiso Business School.[14]

Foundations[edit]

In 1989, with Cecilia Morel, Danica Radic, and Paula Délano, Piñera created the Enterprising Women Foundation (Fundación Mujer Emprende), originally called The House of Youth (La Casa de la Juventud). The foundation aims to assist in the development of young women of lower income.[15]

In 1973, Piñera created the foundation Fundación Futuro, of which he is president and whose directors are Cristián Boza D., María Teresa Chadwick P., Hugo Montes B., Cecilia Morel M., Renato Poblete S.J., and Fabio Valdés C.[citation needed] The head director of the foundation is Magdalena Piñera.[16] The foundation's mission is to help in Chile's development of justice, freedom and democracy.[17] The foundation was renamed Fundación Cultura y Sociedad after Piñera was elected president.[18]

Under the Fundación Cultura y Sociedad (formerly Fundación Futuro), the Grupo Tantauco has the mission of environmentalism, and is administered by Juan Carlos Urquidi.[citation needed] It was created to support the proposals Piñera plans to institute during his presidency.[19] In 2005, Piñera created Tantauco Park (Spanish: Parque Tantauco), a 1,180 km2 (456 sq mi) private natural reserve he bought and owns on the south end of Chiloé Island, in order to protect 118,000 hectares of the region's unique ecosystem. His foundation runs the park, which is open to the public and is an ecotourist location.[citation needed]

In fact, Piñera bought the 118,000 hectares in Chiloé through an offshore company in Panama. He has faced pressure to cede eight hectares to 16 indigenous families whose presence pre-dates Piñera's purchase and who have spent years negotiating to obtain title to their familial lands.[20][21]

An additional project, Grupo Tantauco: Derechos Humanos, was proposed in hopes of beginning a reconciliation between the Chilean people who suffered human rights violations during Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship.[22]

Businesses[edit]

Before entering politics, he was a businessman.

Piñera was general manager of the Banco de Talca. In 1982, a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of violating banking law, in an event where over US$38 Milions were not payed to the Central Bank of Chile, being Piñera the Banco de Talca's CEO. The money disappear and was never paid.[23] Piñera spent 24 days in hiding while his brother, José Piñera, appealed the order, making some calls to underestimate the crime. A writ of habeas corpus, first rejected by the Appeals Court but then approved by the Supreme Court, acquitted Piñera.[24]

Piñera once owned 90% of Chilevisión (a terrestrial television channel broadcasting nationwide). He also owned 27% of LAN Airlines (LAN);[25] 13% of Colo-Colo,[26] a football (soccer) club; and other minor stock positions in companies such as Quiñenco, Enersis, and Soquimich.[27][28][29]

In July 2007, Piñera was fined approximately US$680,000 by Chile's securities regulator (SVS) for not withdrawing a purchase order after receiving privileged information (an infraction similar to insider trading) of LAN Airlines stock in mid-2006.[30] Later that month, he resigned from the boards of LAN and Quintec.[31]

To avoid a conflict of interest he sold Chilevisión for $160 million in 2010 to Time Warner.[25][32] He also sold his shares of LAN in several rounds between February and March 2010,[33] as well as his stake in Colo-Colo.

Piñera has built an estimated fortune of $US2.8 billion as of February 2018, according to Forbes magazine.[34] His wealth is greatly due to his involvement in introducing credit cards to Chile in the late 1970s and his subsequent investments, mainly in LAN Airlines stock. Piñera acquired shares of the formerly state-owned company from Scandinavian Airlines in 1994, as part of a joint venture with the Cueto family.[34][35]

Political career[edit]

In 1988 as Pinochet had lost the referendum and Chile was returning to democracy Piñera offered his support for the Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle in his pre-candidacy for president.[36]

In 1998, Piñera opposed the arrest and detention of Augusto Pinochet, in London, initiated by Baltasar Garzón, arguing that it was an attack on the sovereignty and dignity of Chile.[37]

On 14 May 2005, in a surprise move Piñera announced his candidacy for the 2005 presidential election (RN was supposed to support UDI's Lavín.) He has described his political philosophy as Christian humanism.[38]

Presidential elections of 2009–2010[edit]

Piñera celebrates victory alongside wife and family in 2010.

Piñera ran for President of Chile in the 2009–2010 election.[39] Since August 2009, he led in opinion polls, competing with Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Marco Enríquez-Ominami and Jorge Arrate; all of whom are left-of-center candidates. In 13 December 2009 election, Piñera placed first in the results with 44.05% of the votes, while Frei placed second with 29.6% of the votes.[40] Neither candidate received more than half of the total votes; therefore, according to the Constitution, Chileans returned to the polls for a final run-off election on Sunday, 17 January 2010.[41]

That evening, the third and final preliminary results were announced by the Undersecretary of the Interior.[42] These showing accounted for 99.77% of the total ballot boxes. Of the votes, Piñera received 51.61% and Frei received 48.39%.[43]

Piñera meeting with Michelle Bachelet during the presidential transition

Piñera invested an estimated 13.6 million USD in his presidential campaign, which included items such as a campaign anthem[44] and "Thank You" banners.[45] Piñera's banners and billboards have carried statements throughout the country such as "Delinquents, your party is over," and "Small businesses, Big opportunities".[46] Piñera's campaign released a national TV spot on YouTube featuring a male gay couple, something never seen before in a presidential campaign run in Chile. Amongst his promises were increasing education rates and improving international relations with the neighboring country of Perú.[47]

Piñera's victory meant a shift towards the right,[48] breaking two-decades of center-left political leadership and becoming the first elected right-wing leader in 52 years.[49]

On 28 January, Piñera suspended his membership in National Renewal, becoming unofficially an independent.[50] RN's bylaws require successful presidential candidates from the party to renounce their association to govern the country fairly, foremost with the interest of the people, not with the interest of a political party or particular political philosophy.[51]

Private to public transition[edit]

The Piñera Cabinet
OfficeNamePartyTerm
PresidentSebastián PiñeraInd.11 March 2010–11 March 2014
InteriorRodrigo HinzpeterRN11 March 2010–5 November 2012
Andrés ChadwickUDI5 November 2012–11 March 2014
Foreign AffairsAlfredo MorenoInd.11 March 2010–11 March 2014
DefenseJaime RavinetInd.11 March 2010–13 January 2011
Andrés AllamandRN16 January 2011–5 November 2012
Rodrigo HinzpeterRN5 November 2012–11 March 2014
FinanceFelipe LarraínInd.11 March 2010–11 March 2014
Gen. Sec. of the
Presidency
Cristián LarrouletInd.11 March 2010–11 March 2014
Gen. Sec. of
Government
Ena von BaerUDI11 March 2010–18 July 2011
Andrés ChadwickUDI18 July 2011–5 November 2012
Cecilia PérezRN5 November 2012–11 March 2014
EconomyJuan Andrés FontaineInd.11 March 2010–18 July 2011
Pablo LongueiraUDI18 July 2011–30 April 2013
Félix de VicenteInd.7 May 2013–11 March 2014
Social
Development
Felipe KastInd.11 March 2010–18 July 2011
Joaquín LavínUDI18 July 2011–6 June 2013
Bruno BarandaRN9 June 2013–11 March 2014
EducationJoaquín LavínUDI11 March 2010–18 July 2011
Felipe BulnesRN18 July 2011–29 December 2011
Harald Beyer (impeached)Ind.29 December 2011–4 April 2013
Carolina SchmidtInd.22 April 2013–11 March 2014
JusticeFelipe BulnesRN11 March 2010–18 July 2011
Teodoro RiberaRN18 July 2011–17 December 2012
Patricia PérezInd.17 December 2012–11 March 2014
LaborCamila MerinoInd.11 March 2010–14 January 2011
Evelyn MattheiUDI16 January 2011–20 July 2013
Juan Carlos JobetRN24 July 2013–11 March 2014
Public WorksHernán de SolminihaćInd.11 March 2010–18 July 2011
Laurence GolborneInd.18 July 2011–5 November 2012
Loreto SilvaInd.5 November 2012–11 March 2014
HealthJaime MañalichInd.11 March 2010–11 March 2014
Housing &
Urbanism
Magdalena MatteUDI11 March 2010–19 April 2011
Rodrigo Pérez MackennaInd.19 April 2011–11 March 2014
AgricultureJosé Antonio GalileaRN11 March 2010–29 December 2011
Luis MayolInd.29 December 2011–11 March 2014
MiningLaurence GolborneInd.11 March 2010–18 July 2011
Hernán de SolminihaćInd.18 July 2011–11 March 2014
Transport &
Telecom
Felipe MorandéInd.11 March 2010–14 January 2011
Pedro Pablo ErrázurizUDI16 January 2011–11 March 2014
National AssetsCatalina ParotRN11 March 2010–5 November 2012
Rodrigo Pérez MackennaInd.5 November 2012–11 March 2014
EnergyRicardo RaineriInd.11 March 2010–14 January 2011
Laurence GolborneInd.16 January 2011–18 July 2011
Fernando EcheverríaRN18 July 2011–21 July 2011
Rodrigo ÁlvarezUDI22 July 2011–27 March 2012
Jorge BunsterInd.3 April 2012–11 March 2014
EnvironmentMaría Ignacia BenítezUDI11 March 2010–11 March 2014
WomenCarolina SchmidtInd.11 March 2010–22 April 2013
Loreto SeguelUDI22 April 2013–11 March 2014
Culture & the
Arts
Luciano Cruz-CokeInd.11 March 2010–6 June 2013
Roberto AmpueroInd.9 June 2013–11 March 2014
SportsGabriel Ruiz-TagleUDI14 November 2013–11 March 2014

Piñera became the first billionaire to be sworn into the Chilean Presidency.[52] He offered to sell his shares in major corporations before being sworn in on 11 March 2010, to avoid conflicts of interest.[citation needed] Piñera has placed US$400 million in blind trusts.[53]

The Monday following Piñera's election, expectations of sale from his largest holdings created a surge in trade of Axxion and LAN shares, causing three brief suspensions (19–20, 22 January 2010) in the Santiago Stock Exchange to ease trade. Axxion shares more than tripled before falling 39% on Friday, 22 January.[54] Bachelet's Finance Minister Andrés Velasco urged Piñera to get the sale "sorted out quickly."[55] The value of Piñera's interest in Axxion was estimated at 700 million dollars USD, of his 1.2 billion dollar USD fortune at the beginning of that week.[56]

On 5 February, Piñera confirmed plans to sell his 26.3% stake in LAN airlines at an extraordinary shareholders' meeting for his main holding company, Axxion.[citation needed] Under the pact, Axxion shareholders have agreed to fix the price of the sale, estimated at US$1.5 billion. The Cueto family, who at that point held 25.5% of LAN through their holding company Costa Verde Aeronáutica, had the first option to purchase the stake.[57] On 18 February, Axxion posted a statement on their website confirming the sale of a 21.18% stake in LAN Airlines to the Cueto family for US$1.23 billion.[citation needed] Announcement regarding the sale of the remaining shares was pending until March 2010, when the whole package left Piñera's hands.[58]

Piñera with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Santiago, 23 March 2019

Piñera sold his 9.7% stake in the upscale private hospital Clinica Las Condes at a price of 25,113 CLP per share (US$48.00) through his holding company Bancard on Tuesday, 16 February. The total sale of the 792,000 shares grossed US$37.85 million and was purchased by the brokerage firm Celfin.[59] The proceeds from the sale will go to paying off Bancard debt.[60]

Piñera announced on February he had the intention to transfer 100% of his stake in Chilevisión to a non-for-profit organization called Fundación Cultura y Sociedad (formerly Fundación Futuro), of which he is owner.[61] The foundation's board will include some of the station's current executives. Under that proposal, Piñera maintains the right to remove and replace the foundation's president at any given time.[62] Cristián Patricio Larroulet Vignau, current Minister of the Secretariat of the Presidency of Chile, stated that Piñera was honoring his promise of removing himself from private corporations, as Chilevision will become the property of a non-profit organization. MP Cristián Monckeberg (RN), stated there is no law obligating Piñera to do otherwise and thus this decision is legally legitimate.[61]. The option above finally did not take place, Piñera decided to sell the TV station, and after a failed attempt in May 2010 with the Linzor Capital investment fund,[63] the President announced it sold Chilevisión to Time Warner, in late August 2010.

Piñera said he won't sell his 12.5% stake in Blanco y Negro, company that owns the nation's popular soccer team Colo-Colo. He has stated, "We want big things and not only achieve local victories. The idea is to return the Copa Libertadores to Chile. That is our great goal."[64] Although he will remain part owner, he will take no administrative duties or role while President.[65]

Council of Ministers[edit]

Piñera announced what he calls his "cabinet of unity" on Tuesday, 9 February 2010, at 18:00 hours (local time), in Chile's National Historical Museum.[citation needed] The list of names was presented the previous day to the leader of the National Renewal Party, Carlos Larraín, and the leader of the Independent Democratic Union, Juan Antonio Coloma.[citation needed] The cabinet is made up of 16 men and 6 women, with an average age of 49.[citation needed] Amongst Piñera's nominees is Jaime Ravinet, who is defense minister of the current president's cabinet and a former member of the Christian Democratic Party, from which he resigned upon accepting Piñera's cabinet offer.[citation needed] Also a nominee is Cristián Larroulet, who was an economic planning adviser under Pinochet.[66]

During his first official meeting with his Council of Ministers on Wednesday, 10 February, Piñera issued a formal memorandum calling upon all members to renounce their positions in all private companies by 28 February to avoid conflicts of interest.[citation needed] The memorandum also said that in regards to national heritage, secretaries of state whose affiliation with companies having direct receipt of fiscal monies must either remove themselves from those associations or honor the restrictions of their competitors.[67] Ten of his 22 ministers have involvement in companies with significant financial means.[citation needed]

2017 presidential elections[edit]

Piñera's campaign logo in the second round of the election

On 17 December 2017, Sebastián Piñera was elected president of Chile for a second term.[68] He received 36% of the votes, the highest percentages among all 8 candidates in the 2017 elections. In the second round, Piñera faced Alejandro Guillier, a television news anchor who represented Bachelet's New Majority (Nueva Mayoría) coalition. Piñera won the elections with 54% of the votes.[39]

First presidency (2010–2014)[edit]

Piñera receives the presidential sash from Senate President Jorge Pizarro at the National Congress of Chile on 11 March 2010.
Piñera's official portrait for his first term as president

Piñera was sworn in as the 34th President of the Republic of Chile on 11 March 2010, in a ceremony held in a plenary session of the National Congress in Valparaíso.[citation needed] In the same ceremony, Piñera's Cabinet ministers were sworn in. The ceremony was also marked by a 6.9 Mw earthquake and subsequent aftershocks that upset the invitees.[69] Shortly after, the National Congress building was evacuated due to a tsunami alert that proved to be false a couple of hours later.[citation needed] On 12 October 2010, Piñera rallied his countrymen in the rescue of 33 trapped miners, all of whom were rescued after 70 days following a mining accident.[citation needed] "Chile will never be the same", he said to the miners' foreman, Luis Urzúa, as he (the last of the miners to emerge from the cavern) greeted Piñera, in a broadcast carried live across the globe.[citation needed] Despite much goodwill in Chile following this, many Chileans[who?] are still waiting on Piñera to rectify anti-terrorism laws in Chile which effectively mean the indigenous Mapuche people can be dealt with as "terrorists".[citation needed] This matter has led to hunger strikes which started before the mining disaster, and are set to continue afterwards.[70]

Sebastián Piñera and his Council of Ministers in Chile's Palacio de Cerro Castillo

In January 2011 he faced the protest in Magallanes Region in response to a proposed increase in the price of natural gas there by 16.8%.[citation needed] The protests left more than two thousand cars isolated while trying to cross from the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego to the province of Santa Cruz through Chilean territory. Another 1,500 tourists were left without movement in Torres del Paine National Park after routes to Puerto Natales and El Calafate were cut.[71] In consequence, on 14 January, Minister Secretary General of Government Ena von Baer announced changes in Sebastián Piñera's government cabinet, including the resignation of Ricardo Raineri as Energy Minister. Laurence Golborne became Mining and Energy Minister, on 16 January.[72]

In March 2011, President Piñera led a state visit to Spain to boost relations between the two countries.[citation needed] While in Spain, President and Mrs Piñera, with Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia, opened the exhibition "Don Qui. El Quijote de Matta", at the Cervantes Institute of Madrid.[73]

Amidst the severe 2011 Chilean student protests Piñera shuffled his cabinet and removed Joaquín Lavín from the post of minister of education. With respect to the protest, Piñera has defended for-profit activity in education and proposed to legalize it, rejecting the students' demands for the public ownership of educational establishments.[74] During August 2011, Piñera's public approval declined precipitously amidst continuous protests, to the extent that some polls indicated that he was the least popular Chilean leader since Augusto Pinochet. His approval ratings dropped to as low as 22% according to a CERC survey.[75] As such, Piñera's chances of passing sought reforms were seen as remote.[76]

As president, Piñera expressed support for the Argentine claim on the Falkland Islands, referring to "the unrenounceable rights of Argentina on the islands".[77]

In March 2012, Piñera visited Vietnam with the intention of increasing cooperation between the two countries in general and with Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's most populous and largest economic hub, in particular.[citation needed] HCM City also called for a Chilean sister city while receiving Piñera on 23 March.[citation needed] The visit included the signing of a bilateral trade agreement and several cooperation pacts in education, tourism, culture and finance.[78]

Criticism[edit]

Levels of approval (blue) and disapproval (red) of Piñera's term from 2010 to 2014, according to the Adimark survey. Piñera left office in March 2014 with an approval rating of 50%

Early in 2012 physicist Frank Duarte sharply criticized Piñera's performance in the handling of the Chilean–Peruvian maritime dispute at The Hague, deemed as favoring commercial interests over the interest of the Chilean people, and called for Chile's withdrawal from The Hague.[79] Following the adverse ruling against Chile in 2014, several political figures in Chile, from a variety of political parties, also called for Chile's withdrawal from The Hague that would, in addition, imply a withdrawal from the Pact of Bogota.[80][81]

In December 2011 during a state visit to Mexico a joke made by Piñera where he compared women with politicians caused uproar in Chile, sparking criticism from his own minister Carolina Schmidt who said of the joke that it was "hurting to many women".[82] In the joke Piñera said that "when a lady says "no" it means maybe, when she says maybe it means yes and when she says yes she is not a lady."[83] The Chilean Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence called the joke "misogynic" and "a shame for the whole country".[83] Previously on a state visit to Peru in 2011 Piñera received criticism for his informal style after he revealed to Peruvian president-elect Ollanta Humala that he was a descendant of the Inca Huayna Capac.[84] Senator Jorge Pizarro criticized Piñera's comment to Ollanta Humala, calling for more careful and respectful attitudes.[85]

Second presidency (2018–present)[edit]

Presidential styles of
Sebastián Piñera
Flag of the President of Chile.svg
Reference styleSu Excelencia, el Presidente de la República.
"His Excellency, the President of the Republic"
Spoken stylePresidente de Chile.
"President of Chile"
Alternative styleSeñor Presidente.
"Mr. President"
President Sebastian Piñera receives presidential sash and the O'Higgins Pioche for the second time, 11 March 2018

On 17 December, Piñera won the second round of the Chilean General election, defeating the left wing candidate Alejandro Guillier to become President-Elect. Piñera took office for a second time on 11 March 2018, succeeding the outgoing Michelle Bachelet.

Environmental NGOs accuse the government of yielding to pressure from the mining lobby in an attempt to thwart any draft legislation. In 2018, Sebastián Piñera buried an initiative to ban industrial activities near glaciers. In 2019, a draft law from the ranks of the opposition caused tensions. It is supposed to convert glaciers and their surrounding environment "into protected areas, prohibiting any intervention except scientific and that can benefit sustainable tourism". At least 44 mining projects are likely to be completed between 2019 and 2028.[86]

In May 2018, his government adopted "The Women's Agenda" in response to massive feminist demonstrations, which combined a conservative social vision and economic liberalism.[87]

Cabinet[edit]

In January 2018, Piñera unveiled his cabinet to harsh criticism: his interior minister, Andrés Chadwick, was a vocal supporter of Pinochet dictatorship, which had previously appointed him president of the Catholic University Students Federation.[88] In 2012 Chadwick expressed "deep repentance" for this support after discovering "over the years" serious human rights violations committed by the dictatorship, while defending the regime on other grounds.[89]

Chadwick and justice minister Hernán Larraín were also "supporters and defenders of the secretive German enclave Colonia Dignidad, which was established by the fugitive Nazi officer and paedophile Paul Schäfer in the early 60s".[88] Colonia Dignidad was used by Pinochet security officials to torture and murder opponents of the regime.[88][90]

Other appointees with ties to the Pinochet includes mining minister Baldo Prokurica, a governor in the Pinochet government.

Response to 2019–2020 Chilean protests[edit]

Following widespread protests that broke out across Chile in October 2019, due to a poor economy, Piñera declared a state of emergency on 18 October, authorizing the deployment of the Chilean Army across the main regions to enforce order and prevent the destruction of public property, and invoked before the courts the Ley de Seguridad del Estado ("State Security Law") against dozens of detainees.[91] As a result, Piñera has been heavily criticized, decreasing his approval ratio down to 9% by 24 October, according to a poll by Active Research.[92], although it slowly recovered back up to 13% by 1 June 2020[93], against 73% disapproval. This consistent low level of support has been attributed to losing support from officials due to failure to restore order and enforce the rule of law.[94] On 12 December 2019 the National Congress rejected an opposition led motion to impeach him. The impeachment resolution accused him of failure to protect human rights in relation to the protests.[95]

In response to the unrest Piñera removed Chadwick as Interior and Public Security Minister on 28 October 2019 assigning instead Gonzalo Blumel. On 11 December Chadwick was impeached for his role in the protests, including the many eye injuries attained by protesters.[96][97] Chadwick is effectively banned to hold public office for five years.[97]

Response to COVID-19 Pandemic[edit]

Under Piñera's leadership, Chile has had one of the largest outbreaks of COVID-19 in the world. As of 2 July 2020, it has had recorded 284,541 cases of COVID-19 and 5,920 deaths from COVID-19[98], the third-highest totals for each in South America. Only Brazil and Peru have more of each.[99] In response, Piñera has banned events with more than 500 people[100] and issued lockdown orders in certain areas of the country, most notably the Santiago Metropolitan Region[101]

Public image[edit]

Piñera has often publicly been associated with bad luck.[102] The BBC has listed a series of situations of "bad luck" concerning Piñera's presidency: the 2010 Maule earthquake followed by another quake during Piñera's inauguration ceremony, the mining accident of 2010, the 2010 Santiago prison fire, the 2011 Puyehue-Cordón Caulle eruption and the 2012 wildfires.[102]

José Mujica, president of Uruguay, stated Piñera's low approval ratings might be caused by a lack of "glamour".[103]

In April 2012 The Economist described Piñera as being considered an "inept politician" by both the opposition and supporters.[104] The Chilean government responded by stating that The Economist's comment was disrespectful.[105] His lapses, errors and inconveniences have been labelled "piñericosas" in Chile.[106]

In June 2013, after visiting President Obama in the White House,[107] he said, "I'm going to sit at the President of the United States' desk," breaking the White House's political protocols. Alfredo Moreno Charme, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said "How many other presidents have done the same?" and Obama responded, "This is the only one," causing laughter between those there. Piñera then justified his abrupt actions by stating his daughter was born in the United States.[108]

Use of bellicose rhetoric[edit]

During the 2019–20 Chilean protests Piñera made himself known for the use of a bellicose language.[109] When Piñera addressed the nation on the evening of 20 October during the height of the unrest he remarked that the country was "at war with a powerful and relentless enemy" and announced that the state of emergency would be extended across much of the country.[110] Some opposition politicians described his rhetoric as "irresponsible", while a Latin America editor for BBC News Online expressed concern about the impact his words would have on the protesters and on the chances for meaningful dialogue.[111] Hours shortly after the President's speech, chief of national defense Javier Iturriaga del Campo spoke against this declaration, asserting that he was "content" and "not at war with anyone".[112]

However the use of bellicose rhetoric can be traced back to at least 2018 when Piñera began his second government.[109] He has referred to a variety of subjects like drug trafficking, terrorism and organised crime as a "powerful and relentless enemies".[109] Besides this Piñera has made frequent use of words like "battle", "conquest", "defeat" and "combat" in his verbal communication.[109] The use of such language is not unique to Piñera but has also been heard from European right-wing populists and George W. Bush.[109] According to economist Carlos Tromben who studied the political discourse of Piñera, the aim of this rhetoric is to rally the nation behind what is perceived as a common interest, but the success of this has been variable.[109] Tromben also views the bellicose rhetoric as a defensive communicational strategy aimed to gain time for a "counterattack".[109]

Personal life[edit]

Piñera and Morel in February 2012

Piñera married Cecilia Morel in 1973. They were neighbours in the Avenida Américo Vespucio, Santiago.[citation needed] They have four children, born in 1975, 1978, 1982 and 1984. All of them have university degrees.[113] Piñera is also a member of Washington D.C.-based think tank, the Inter-American Dialogue.[114]

Honours[edit]

National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

Actor Bob Gunton portrays Piñera in the 2015 film The 33, directed by Patricia Riggen.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Membership suspended while President.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Michelle Bachelet
President of Chile
2010–2014
Succeeded by
Michelle Bachelet
President of Chile
2018–present
Incumbent
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Peter O'Neill
Chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
2019
Incumbent