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The entrepreneur who broke the hegemony of the Left

Candidate Sebastián Piñera became the first right-wing president since the return to democracy in 1990; Ruled the country between 2010 and 2014

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The entrepreneur who broke the hegemony of the Left

When Sebastián Piñera Echenique finds in trade some shirt that he likes, even if it is of a simple national brand, one does not buy but a dozen of same design. Neckties are usually given away. Until before reaching coin in 2010, suits were not made to measure, so that almost always was wide and long. His peculiar style — informal, careless, greedy or austere, as he wishes to see — accounts for a character that has his head much less focused on daily cotidianidades — like wardrobe — than on his two great passions: politics and business.

Aged 68 years and married since 1973 with Cecilia Morel, with whom he has four children, Piñera combined for many years public issue with ir companies. At end of years 70 obtained representation for Chile of credit cards and, since n, its consecutive ventures were growing in ambition and success. He was main shareholder of airline Lan Chile (current Latam), television channel Chilevisión and Black and white, company that manages one of most popular football clubs in country, Colo-Colo. But that cross between money and politics was not free for Piñera: both his ability to earn money and use gaps in his favor have been his main Achilles heel in his political life.

Piñera is a wealthy man: he has a fortune estimated by Forbes at about 2.7 billion, seventh largest in country. But he's a first-generation millionaire. Born in Santiago de Chile in 1949, he is third of six children who had Magdalena Echenique and José Piñera Savall, an engineer and diplomat who raised his children thanks to his work and who was founder of Chilean Christian Democracy, party that during Decades represented middle classes. The reasons why former president did not played in his far's party and ended up signing on right have never been entirely clear. The truth is that — until today — Piñera tries to flirt without more success with that moderate center where he sometimes seems to feel more comfortable than in his own sector.

He has never been a traditional Chilean right-winger, historically, more conservative, so that still in his own ranks re are those who look at him with some distrust. He's a mean Catholic. He feels comfortable visiting former president Barack Obama in Washington — as he did last September — or when he presumed from his closeness to French Nicolas Sarkozy or British David Cameron.

Rise in opposition

For plebiscite of 1988 that sealed exit of dictator Augusto Pinochet, unlike remainder of right voted by option of No. In democracy he was a senator between 1990 and 1998. In midst of a transition to democracy, with conclusion of left in power, he began to become one of main figures of opposition. In 2005 he tried to reach coin without success, because he lost to Michelle Bachelet. In 2009, his second attempt, however, reached a historic triumph: defeating former President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, he became first right-wing president since return to democracy in 1990. His predecessor, Jorge Alessandri, had been elected many decades ago, in 1958. Piñera, n, was finally one who broke hegemony of left in Chile.

He led a government that somehow followed path of four left administrations that had previously ruled country. He did not turn right — as his own sector would have liked — and his management was mainly marked by an emphasis on management. Having received central-South zone of country practically destroyed due to earthquake of 8.8 degrees of February of 2010, Piñera had to focus on rebuilding.

The rescue of 33 miners who lived 69 days at 700 meters underground tried to be symbol of a government that — with some pride — tried to show that with a business logic things could be done well. The 2011 student Revolution, however, politically tested Piñera and his people. He has a reputation for smart and a certain taste for protocol outings, as when he sat down at Obama's desk at White House to take out a photograph. Harvard's Master and Doctor in economics, his strength is not necessarily soft tributes, such as sympathy or closeness to citizens.

He is impulsive, uncontrollable — even for his advisors and his trusted people — but prepared and experienced, as his opponents recognize him.


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