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Sebastián Piñera


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.


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.


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.


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.


"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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