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Profile: Pinera achieves life's dream of becoming Chile's president

2010-03-12 09:34 BJT

SANTIAGO, March 11 (Xinhua) - Chile's new President Sebastian Pinera achieved on Thursday the dream of his life: to be President of Chile, after a long career and having achieved great success in business, which led him to be one of the richest men in the country.

Pinera became on Thursday the first right-wing president of the country in the last 52 years.

During the last two decades, after the return of the democracy to the country in 1990, Pinera went for the presidency of his country. Now he replaced left-wing Michelle Bachelet to begin a four-year presidency until March 10, 2014.

Pinera won the elections on Jan. 17, 2010, at the second round, after defeating former President Eduardo Frei, who represented a center-left coalition, which has governed the country for four consecutive terms since 1990.

In 1989, Pinera was the chief of campaign for the presidential candidate of Hernan Buchi, successor of dictator Augusto Pinochet, though one year ago he had voted against Pinochet's bid to continue in power.

According to some people, Pinera represents a more liberal right-wing, which has been disassociated of Pinochet's dictatorship (1973-1990) by criticizing the violations to the human rights during that period.

However, Pinera comes into power supported by the Independent Democratic Union, an ultra right-wing sector, which participated in Pinochet's government.

In 1989, Pinera was elected as senator for Santiago, and later president of the right-wing National Renovation Party, which became the base for his presidential aspirations.

In 2006, Pinera surpassed his right-wing counterpart Joaquin Lavin in the elections. He was, however, defeated at the second round by the socialist candidate Bachelet.

Pinera's president candidacy was also supported by an alliance between two right-wing parties and a small one called First Chile, formed by the people dissatisfied with the ruling coalition.

"Now it begins a new Chile," Pinera said. He recognized the advances made by the four center-left governments, though he criticized them for lack of dynamism in promoting economic growth, which has lowered in the last decade.

According to Pinera, his government will focus on reconstruction after the strong earthquake on Feb. 27, accelerating economic growth, creating 1 million jobs and fighting the growing crimes. These challenges will practically take the four years of his government.

Pinera has announced that he wants to give his government a people's voice and nearness to the people, so he will begin to deliver a cash bonus to all the poorest families worth of about 77 U.S. dollars, one of his campaign promises.

His government is basically formed by businessmen, which confirms that he will keep a neo-liberal character of Chile's economy model.

Pinera studied commercial engineering in university. In 1975 he got a master degree and a PhD in economics in the Harvard University. He has also been professor in several universities.

Pinera was born in Santiago on December 1, 1949. He was married to Cecilia Morel Montes in 1973. They have four children.

People close to him say that he is creative and has a high Intelligence Quotient, and is always thinking of new projects. He is considered as an obsessive, methodic, very neat and workaholic person.

Pinera has also accumulated great fortune, estimated between 1. 5 and 2 billion U.S. dollars, being one of the richest men in Chile.

Between 1975 and 1978, Pinera was a consultant of the World Bank and between 1974 and 1976 a consultant of the Inter America Development Bank.

Editor: Zhang Pengfei | Source: Xinhua