Th3e former president of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, has passed away in a helicopter crash which occurred on Tuesday, plunging the nation into mourning and bringing an outpouring of condolence messages from Latin America leaders.
Pinera, 74, and the other three people were on board when the chopper crashed into a lake in southern Chile. Shortly after emergency responders arrived, the former president was declared dead. The three other travellers made it out alive.
Although officials have not verified the identity of the pilot or the destination of the chopper, it was reported that Pinera was the pilot, as Pinera frequently operated his own helicopter and spent the summers in the Southern Hemisphere close to the scenic lakes that dot Chile’s southern region.
President Gabriel Boric has designated three days of national mourning as the former president, who led the country for two non-consecutive terms from 2010 and 2022, will be laid to rest in a state burial on Friday.
Interior Minister Carolina Toha said that the former president’s body has been found in the lake close to the town of Lago Ranco.
Toha further said, “We remember him for the way he dedicated his life to public service.”
Pinera’s most well-known international recognition came from his supervision of the amazing 2010 rescue of 33 miners who had become stranded beneath the Atacama desert. The incident gained international attention and served as the inspiration for the 2014 film “The 33.”
He was well-known in Chile as a prosperous businessman whose first term was enhanced by the nation’s quick economic expansion, but who was frequently viewed as disconnected from the nation’s rapidly evolving culture.
During his first tenure as president, students demanded education reform; during his second term, there were larger-scale and frequently violent protests against inequality, which culminated in the government pledging to design a new constitution. Both of his presidencies were marked by frequent protests.
After leaving office, Pinera stayed involved in politics, supporting conservative candidates in the area, such as Argentine President Javier Milei, and raising awareness of topics such as the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to design a new constitution.
Mauricio Macri, the former president of Argentina, expressed his sorrow upon learning of Pinera’s passing. “He was a good person, committed like no one else to Chile and to the values of freedom and democracy in Latin America,” he stated.