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Sebastián Piñera

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Sebastián Piñera (Comando de Sebastián Piñera)

Who is he?:

The president of Chile who won election on Jan. 17, 2010, and was set to take office on March 11, 2010. A Harvard-educated investor who ranked #701 on Forbes' 2009 list of the world's billionaires and founded credit giant Bancard.

Birthdate:

Dec. 1, 1949, in Santiago. His father was Chile's ambassador to Belgium and to the United Nations. He has three brothers and two sisters; his brother Jose was Minister of Labour under Augusto Pinochet.

Personal life:

Married Cecilia Morel Montes in 1973; they have four children: Magdalena, Cecilia, Sebastián, Cristóbal.

Political affiliation:

Leader of the center-right Coalition for Change; now officially an independent. His election marked the first elected right-leaning leader in 52 years.

Career:

After receiving a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard, Piñera taught economics in Chile. He amassed much of his fortune by bringing credit cards to Chile; he also now owns a television channel, a stake in Chile's most successful soccer club and a large stake in the country's national airline. He was campaign director for a former finance minister of Pinochet in 1989, and served as senator for East Santiago from 1990–1998. He was president of the center-right National Renewal Party from 2001-04. He first ran for president in 2005 and lost to Michelle Bachelet. He won against a center-left candidate in the 2010 runoff.

Future:

Piñera faces a hefty transition when he comes into office: On Feb. 27, 2009, a magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Chile, heaping an extra challenge on the new leader as the country transitions from 20 years of center-left rule. Piñera has vowed not to make sweeping changes, though, to the social programs and policies that give Bachelet a high approval rating as she leaves office. He describes his governing philosophy as Christian humanism. He will most likely be at odds with the center-left forces on the continent, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Quote:

"Better times are coming for Chile. There is a great new phase on the way. After 20 years I think a change will be good for Chile. It's like opening the windows of your home to let fresh air come in."
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