Photo: Reproduction

Chile says goodbye, this Wednesday (7), to former president Sebatián Piñera, who died at the age of 74, after suffering a helicopter accident on Lake Ranco, in the Los Ríos region. President Gabriel Boric’s government is preparing a state funeral that will last three days.

Several world leaders, including President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, mourned his death. Boric declared three days of official mourning in the country.

Piñera was piloting, this Tuesday (6), a Robinson R66 Turbine model helicopter, with capacity for four crew members, when the aircraft lost altitude and crashed into Lake Ranco.

The former president will be buried in the premises of the old Congress in Santiago, where, initially, family and friends will hold a private ceremony.

Later, the place opened its doors to welcome anyone who wanted to pay homage to the former president. The wake will continue until Thursday (8). On Friday (9), there will be a mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the body will be buried in the Parque del Recuerdo cemetery.

The former president was returning from a lunch at the home of businessman and friend José Vox, accompanied by his sister Magdalena Piñera and two other acquaintances, brothers Ignacio Guerrero and Bautista Guerrero.

To the newspaper El Mundo, the sister stated that Piñera instructed the passengers to get out of the aircraft while he tried to control it. The Robinson R66 Turbine crashed 400 meters from Cox’s home after losing altitude.

Experts responsible for the autopsy of the body of the former Chilean president told the radio Biobio that Piñera died from asphyxiation due to submersion. The body was recovered 28 meters deep and 300 meters from the shores of Lake Ranco.

President Gabriel Boric instructed Chile’s Foreign Minister, Chancellor Alberto Van Klaveren, to organize state honors for Piñera.

Boric made a statement broadcast on social media in which he offered condolences to Piñera’s family and members of his government. He also announced three days of official mourning in the country, “to honor the memory of someone who was elected president of Chile on two occasions.”

“President Piñera contributed, based on his vision, to building great agreements for the good of the country. He was a Democrat from the start and genuinely pursued what he believed would be best for the country,” he said.

Political leaders from Brazil and other Latin American countries spoke out about the death of Sebastián Piñera. In a post on social media, President Lula (PT) said he was ‘surprised and sad’.

“We live together, we work to strengthen the relationship between our countries and we always had a good dialogue, when we were both presidents, and also when we were not. Very sad that he passed away so abruptly. My condolences to his family and friends of Piñera for this loss”, wrote Lula.

The president of Paraguay, Santiago Peña, also registered his condolences on social media. “I deeply regret the death of the former president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera. I send my condolences to his family, friends and the Chilean people in this moment of pain”, published Peña

Piñera was president for two terms and was denounced in The Hague

Piñera occupied La Moneda Palace for two terms, from 2010 to 2014 and from 2018 to 2022. He was president during the so-called “social outburst” in 2019, which generated a wave of protests against the Constitution of dictator Augusto Pinochet and which led to a new constituent process.

His mandate was marked by the strong repression that the State inflicted on protesters. During the social uproar, around thirty people were killed and thousands were injured. According to Amnesty International, he was responsible for the government that most violated human rights in Chile since the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990).

In 2021, the former president was indicted at the International Criminal Court (ICC), in The Hague, Netherlands. The request was forwarded by former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, the Chilean Human Rights Commission (CHDH), the American Association of Jurists (AAJ) and the Centro di Ricerca ed Elaborazione per la Democrazia (CRED).

Piñera was a member of the Crisitão Democratic Party (DC) and, before being elected president, he had been Chile’s ambassador to Belgium and to the United Nations (UN) during the government of Eduardo Frei Montalva. He was also a Senator of Chile from 1990 to 1998. He had a degree in Commercial Engineering from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and did postgraduate studies in Economics at Harvard. In 1973, he married Cecilia Morel Montes and had four children: Magdalena, Cecilia, Juan Sebastián and Cristóbal.


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