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Sebastián Piñera
Retrato Oficial Presidente Piñera 2018 (cropped7).jpg
Official portrait, 2018
34th and 36th President of Chile
In office
11 March 2018 – 11 March 2022
Preceded by Michelle Bachelet
Succeeded by Gabriel Boric
In office
11 March 2010 – 11 March 2014
Preceded by Michelle Bachelet
Succeeded by Michelle Bachelet
President pro tempore of PROSUR
In office
22 March 2019 – 12 December 2020
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Iván Duque
Leader of National Renewal
In office
26 May 2001 – 10 March 2004
Preceded by Alberto Cardemil
Succeeded by Sergio Díez
Senator for Eastern Santiago
In office
11 March 1990 – 11 March 1998
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Carlos Bombal
Personal details
Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique

(1949-12-01)1 December 1949
Santiago, Chile
Died 6 February 2024(2024-02-06) (aged 74)
Ranco Lake, Futrono, Chile
Political party National Renewal (1989–2010)
Independent (2010–2024)
Other political
Coalition for Change (2009–2013)
Chile Vamos (2015–2024)
Cecilia Morel
(m. 1973)
Children 4
Education Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (BS)
Harvard University (MA, PhD)

Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique ( 1 December 1949 – 6 February 2024) was a Chilean billionaire businessman and politician who served as president of Chile from 2010 to 2014 and again from 2018 to 2022.

The son of a Christian Democratic politician and diplomat, he studied business administration at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and economics at Harvard University. As of January 2023 he had an estimated net worth of US$2.7 billion, according to Forbes, making him one of the richest people in Chile.

A member of the liberal-conservative 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, and the first to hold the office since the departure of Augusto Pinochet in 1990.

Before the social unrest that erupted in late 2019, Piñera took a partially harsh stance on corruption and organized crime. He ordered minister of justice Hernán Larraín to crack down on and legally dissolve corrupt organizations in the country, such as Edwin Symonowicz Foundation, and organized crime groups. Following the unrest, his diminished capacity to govern according to the principle of presidentialism led to claims that Chile is in a state of de facto parliamentarism or should become parliamentary.

Piñera died in a helicopter crash on Ranco Lake on 6 February 2024.

Early life and education

Piñera was the sixth child of José Piñera Carvallo and Magdalena Echenique Rozas. 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. 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.

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. Piñera returned to Chile in 1955 and enrolled in the Colegio del Verbo Divino ("Divine Word School"), from which he graduated in 1967.

Piñera then enrolled 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 in each class.

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. After three years at Harvard, Piñera graduated with both a Master of Arts and PhD in Economics.



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.


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.

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. The head director of the foundation is Magdalena Piñera. The foundation's mission is to help in Chile's development of justice, freedom and democracy. The foundation was renamed Fundación Cultura y Sociedad after Piñera was elected president.

Under the Fundación Cultura y Sociedad (formerly Fundación Futuro), the Grupo Tantauco has the mission of environmentalism, and is administered by Juan Carlos Urquidi. It was created to support the proposals Piñera plans to institute during his presidency. 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.

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 sixteen Indian families whose presence pre-dates Piñera's purchase and who have spent years negotiating to obtain title to their familial lands.

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.


Sebastián Piñera (2009)
Before entering politics, Piñera 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 Million were not paid to the Central Bank of Chile, Piñera being the Banco de Talca's CEO. The money disappeared and was never paid. 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.

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

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. Later that month, he resigned from the boards of LAN and Quintec.

To avoid a conflict of interest he sold Chilevisión for $160 million in 2010 to Time Warner. He also sold his shares of LAN in several rounds between February and March 2010, 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. 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.

Political career

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.

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.

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.

Presidential elections of 2009–2010

Piñera Presidente electo
Piñera celebrates alongside his wife and family after winning the 2009–10 presidential election

Piñera ran for President of Chile in the 2009–2010 election. Since August 2009, he led in opinion polls, competing with left-of-center candidates Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Marco Enríquez-Ominami and Jorge Arrate. On 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. 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.

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

Presidenta Bachelet y Presidente-electo Piñera
Piñera meeting with Michelle Bachelet during the presidential transition

Piñera invested an estimated US$13.6 million in his presidential campaign, which included items such as a campaign anthem and "Thank You" banners. Piñera's banners and billboards have carried statements throughout the country such as "Delinquents, your party is over," and "Small businesses, Big opportunities". Piñera's campaign released a 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.

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

On 28 January, Piñera suspended his membership in National Renewal, becoming unofficially an independent. 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.

Private to public transition

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

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. Bachelet's Finance Minister Andrés Velasco urged Piñera to get the sale "sorted out quickly." The value of Piñera's interest in Axxion was estimated at US$700 million, of his US$1.2 billion fortune at the beginning of that week.

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. 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. 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. Announcement regarding the sale of the remaining shares was pending until March 2010, when the whole package left Piñera's hands.

Bolsonaro with Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, Santiago, 23 March 2019
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. The proceeds from the sale will go to paying off Bancard debt.

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. 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. 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.'. 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, the President announced it sold Chilevisión to Time Warner, in late August 2010.

Piñera said he would not sell his 12.5% stake in Blanco y Negro, a company that owns the Colo-Colo soccer team. 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." Although he will remain part owner, he will take no administrative duties or role while President.

Council of Ministers

Piñera announced his "cabinet of unity" 9 February 2010 in Chile's National Historical Museum. The cabinet is made up of 16 men and 6 women. Amongst Piñera's nominees was Jaime Ravinet, the previous president's defense minister; until accepting Piñera's offer, he had been a member of the Christian Democratic Party. Another nominee was Cristián Larroulet, who was an economic planning adviser under Pinochet. Piñera first met with his new ministers one day later and issued a formal memorandum calling upon all members to renounce their positions in all private companies by 28 February to avoid conflicts of interest. 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. Ten of his 22 ministers have involvement in companies with significant financial means.

2017 presidential elections

Logo Piñera Presidente 2V
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. He received 36% of the votes, the highest percentages among all eight 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.

First presidency (2010–2014)


Sebastián Piñera asume como Presidente de Chile en solemne ceremonia en el Congreso Nacional
Piñera receives the presidential sash from Senate President Jorge Pizarro at the National Congress of Chile on 11 March 2010.
Fotografía oficial del Presidente Sebastián Piñera - 2
Piñera's official portrait for his first term as president
Presidente de Chile (11838889593)
President Piñera meets with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on 18 May 2010

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. 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. Shortly after, the National Congress building was evacuated due to a tsunami alert that proved to be false a couple of hours later.

The composition of his government was marked by the presence of former officials of the Pinochet dictatorship. For example, the head of the cabinet of the Undersecretary of Defence, Major Mario Larenas Gutiérrez, was accused by the communist deputy Hugo Gutiérrez of having participated in the Caravan of Death following the 1973 coup. The same deputy recalled the past of the general appointed by Piñera as director of the Gendarmerie, Iván Andrusco, who had worked at DICOMCAR, a repressive body dissolved following the Caso Degollados (1985), and who had been forced to resign. While Michelle Bachelet's government had parity, Sebastián Piñera's government has only 18% women.

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. "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. Despite much goodwill in Chile following this incident, he faced continuing opposition from Chileans calling for amendments to anti-terrorism laws on the grounds that Mapuche Indians could be treated as terrorists. This matter has led to hunger strikes which started before the mining disaster, and are set to continue afterward.

Sebastián Piñera, Fotografía Oficial junto a su gabinete ministerial (3)
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%. 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. 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.

In March 2011, President Piñera led a state visit to Spain to boost relations between the two countries. 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.

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. 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. As such, Piñera's chances of passing sought reforms were seen as remote.

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

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. HCM City also called for a Chilean sister city while receiving Piñera on 23 March. The visit included the signing of a bilateral trade agreement and several cooperation pacts in education, tourism, culture, and finance.

Second presidency (2018–2022)

Sebastián Piñera asume como Presidente de Chile y da inicio su segundo mandato 5
President Piñera receives presidential sash and the O'Higgins Pioche for the second time, 11 March 2018
Presidente Piñera sostiene reunión con Presidente Trump (3)
President Piñera meets with U.S. President Donald Trump.

On 17 December, Piñera won the second round of the 2017 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 to thwart any draft legislation. In 2018, 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 will likely be completed between 2019 and 2028.

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. In June 2021, Piñera said that he would push for the adoption of a same-sex marriage bill, drawing criticism from his conservative allies.


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. 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.

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

Conflict with the Mapuche people

He is facing conflict in the Araucania region, where the Mapuche people are demanding the return of their ancestral lands, which they consider to have been taken over by large companies. Militants have been carrying out attacks and arson attacks on large logging operations, leading the Chilean government to declare a state of emergency in mid-October and to militarise the region. Several civilians are killed as a result of law enforcement actions.

Pandora Papers

In the Pandora Papers leak of 3 October 2021, Piñera was named in the revealed documents. According to Spanish newspaper El País, Chilean media organizations CIPER and LaBot allegedly documented that Piñera was involved in "particularly controversial activity". According to reports, Piñera took money from a prominent mining executive in exchange for government support for Minera Dominga – a controversial mining investment project located in an environmentally sensitive area. The mining executive in question is Piñera's childhood friend Carlos Alberto Délano of Andes Iron.

El País wrote:

In December 2010, when Piñera had been in the presidential residence, La Moneda Palace, for just nine months, the presidential family sold the business to Délano with a deed signed in Chile for $14 million and another in the Virgin Islands for $138 million. The amount was to be paid in three installments, with a caveat: the last payment was conditional on there not being environmental protection imposed on the mining operations area, as environmental groups were demanding. The decision on the viability of Minera Dominga was left in the hands of the Piñera government, which failed to promote environmental protection, so the third installment was finally paid.

According to Infobae, Piñera's family and other investors allegedly made a 1,000% profit over an eighteen month period on the project that required approval from Piñera's government.

In response, Piñera's business manager said that Piñera had not been in control of his own companies for about twelve years and that he was not aware of the sale of Minera Dominga to his friend Carlos Alberto Délano.


As a consequence of the leaked information by the Pandora Papers; a formal impeachment was launched against him. On 9 November 2021, the lower chamber passed the impeachment and it now moved to the Senate, where two-thirds of the votes are needed to remove Piñera from power. On 16 November 2021, Chile's Senate voted against removing President Sebastian Pinera from office, ending an impeachment process.

Personal life

Http 22-02-2012 Primera Dama en Sn Clemente
Piñera and Morel in February 2012

Piñera married Cecilia Morel in 1973. They were neighbors on Avenida Américo Vespucio, Santiago. They had four children, born in 1975, 1978, 1982, and 1984. All of them have university degrees.

Piñera was also a member of Washington D.C.-based think tank, the Inter-American Dialogue. He supported President Javier Milei's victory in the 2023 Argentine general election.


On 6 February 2024 Piñera died in a helicopter accident near Lake Ranco in southern Chile. According to some press reports, he survived the crash itself but was unable to take off his safety belt and drowned. The Aircraft involved was a Robinson R66 helicopter, among the survivors of the accident were his daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law.

The government of President Gabriel Boric declared a period of national mourning and announced that Piñera would be given a state funeral.

Styles, honours and arms

Presidential styles of
Sebastián Piñera Echenique
Flag of the President of Chile Arms of Sebastián
Reference style His Excellency
Spoken style Your Excellency
Alternative style Mr. President

National honours

  • Grand-Master (2010-2014 and 2018–2022) and Collar of the Order of Merit
  • Grand-Master (2010-2014 and 2018–2022) and Collar of the Order of Bernardo O'Higgins

Foreign honours


See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Sebastián Piñera para niños

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