Sebastián Piñera, the former president of Chile, tragically passed away in a helicopter accident on Tuesday afternoon, 6th. At the time of his death, Piñera, who was 74 years old, had an estimated net worth of US$2.7 billion, or R$13.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine. This immense wealth positioned him among the wealthiest individuals in Chile. However, the question arises, how did Piñera amass such immense riches?
Piñera’s presidency in Chile spanned two periods, from 2010 to 2014 and again from 2018 to 2022. His tenure as the country’s executive marked a significant milestone since 1958, as he became the first right-wing representative to hold that office. Forbes attributes his substantial wealth to his own investments, in addition to his educational background. Piñera holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, showcasing his intellectual prowess and business acumen.
Throughout his career, Piñera was involved in various ventures that contributed to his massive fortune. For instance, after the 2010 elections, he received a staggering US$1.5 billion (R$7.4 billion) for his 26% share in the Chilean airline Lan, which is now part of the transnational company Latam. He also realized significant gains from selling the Chilevision TV channel, which he had acquired in 2005, to Time Warner for US$150 million (R$744 million). Furthermore, Piñera divested his interest in Blanco & Negro, a prominent football club in the region, where he held shares.
The tragic accident occurred while Piñera was returning from visiting his friend, José Cox, operating the helicopter himself. The aircraft crashed into a lake, claiming the lives of all four individuals on board, including the politician’s sister. Thankfully, the other passengers survived, with Piñera being the unfortunate exception.
Following the incident, an official statement was released by Piñera’s office expressing gratitude for the overwhelming support and concern received during those difficult hours. Details regarding the funeral arrangements were promised to be shared at a later time.
The Navy promptly located Piñera’s body, as confirmed by Carolina Tohá, the Minister of the Interior. The helicopter, carrying a total of four individuals, crashed into the water. Three of them managed to make it to the shore unharmed, but Piñera unfortunately did not. The Navy arrived at the accident scene and recovered the remains of the former president.
According to reports, the accident took place shortly after 3 pm local time. It is believed that Piñera was unable to free himself from his seat belt, causing him to perish as the helicopter submerged about 40 meters underwater. Photographs taken prior to the tragedy depict a cloudy and rainy day with limited visibility.
In light of Piñera’s passing, the ministry has announced that he will receive a state burial, and Chile will enter a period of national mourning as per the directives of the current president, Gabriel Boric. The people of Chile, including Piñera’s family and friends, are deserving of our deepest sympathies. In honoring the former president’s memory, Sebastián Piñera will be recognized for his service to Chile as the person who governed them, as stated by Tohá.