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Posted on on September 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Rescue, Relief, Reconciliation: Sebastián Piñera’s Full Plate.

On March 11, 2010, Sebastián Piñera was sworn in as the Republic of Chile’s 35th president in a ceremony at the National Congress in Valparaíso. The new president received a dramatic greeting as a 6.9 magnitude earthquake rocked the inaugural ceremony and all of the celebrants, which included several Latin American leaders. Only two weeks after February’s colossal 8.8 earthquake took nearly 500 lives and cost Chile as much as 30 billion USD, Piñera’s inauguration instantly placed the former businessman and senator in charge of the country’s extensive relief and recovery efforts.

Chile was once again struck with tragedy when a mine collapsed in Copiapó on August 5th, leaving 33 miners trapped a half-mile underground and a rescue effort that reportedly is still months away from securing their freedom. Now, with a giant earthquake recovery to preside over, 33 of his fellow citizens held captive underground, recent controversies over environmentally-unfriendly foreign investments, and an economy that must remain stable as the international community recovers from an economic crisis, President Piñera has a plethora of urgent issues to address. September 11th will mark both the first six-month anniversary of Piñera’s term, and the 33rd anniversary of Chile’s military coup that led to a violent 17-year dictatorship headed by General Augusto Pinochet. Seven days later, the country will celebrate 200 years of independence. As Chile approaches such important milestones, many in the international community are still wondering: who is Piñera, what is he doing for Chile, and what should be expected of him over the next three and a half years?

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This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Elizabeth Gavin

Thursday, September 09, 2010 | Research Memorandum 10.1

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