Conservative billionaire Pinera sworn in as president of Chile

2018-03-12 09:51
Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, and his wife, Cecilia Morel, right, give the first speech at the presidential palace La Moneda, in Santiago. (Luis Hidalgo, AP)

Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, and his wife, Cecilia Morel, right, give the first speech at the presidential palace La Moneda, in Santiago. (Luis Hidalgo, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Valparaso - Conservative billionaire Sebastian Pinera was sworn in on Sunday to his second term as president of Chile, replacing socialist Michelle Bachelet in the office for the second time in eight years.

An emotional Bachelet helped Pinera put on the sash of office, gave him a kiss and then left Congress with members of her government.

Pinera, who was president from 2010 - 2014, has promised to stimulate growth and create jobs.

READ: Billionaire Pinera to return as Chile's president

He made a strong call for national unity in his first speech, delivered from a balcony of the La Moneda presidential palace late on Sunday, promising a "healthy culture of dialogue, agreements and collaboration".

"We are committed to being a government of progress and solidarity, which will allow us, within eight years, to transform Chile into a developed country without poverty," said Pinera, joined on the balcony by his wife Cecilia Morel.

Package of reforms

The 68-year-old communications magnate is assuming the presidency just as Chile's economy is showing signs of rebounding from a period of sluggish growth due to low prices for copper, the country's biggest export.

"The good times are coming," his supporters chanted after he was sworn in.

Bachelet was cheered by supporters as she capped a second term in office in which she saw through an ambitious package of reforms aimed at eliminating the institutional legacy of the 1973 - 1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Leaders from neighbouring Latin American countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico and Peru - as well as the former king of Spain Juan Carlos - attended the inauguration ceremony at the congress in the coastal city of Valparaiso.

Later, the billionaire president chose a shelter for at-risk children in a depressed district of Santiago to announce his first measures as president, the reform of state protection for vulnerable children.

The new president called for a national agreement on the care of children, and said his new cabinet would for the first time include a minister for children.

He said some 1 313 minors had died in centres run by the National Service for Minors over the last decade. More than half the young people who pass through the state centres later become delinquents, according to Pinera.

The new president pledged to increase resources and subsidies to help tackle the problem.

Changes

In his speech at La Moneda, he also highlighted as a priority his quest for peace in the tense southern La Araucania region, the epicentre of a conflict with Mapuche indigenous communities.

"Every time we have divided, we have reaped our most bitter and painful defeats," he said.

In a Facebook message, Bachelet said she was "profoundly proud of the transformation that we pushed these years" and said she was convinced Chile today is more "just, equitable and free".

She was Latin America's last sitting chief of state who is a woman.

Implementing the changes she made will now be up to Pinera, who says he wants to reform the Pinochet-era pension system and supports the free education system instituted by Bachelet.

"I feel I now have more experience, more maturity, more awareness of the importance of uniting Chileans; greater humility to listen, with eyes and ears that are more attentive," he said this week.

Pinera - whose fortune has been estimated by Forbes at $2.7bn - has promised to transform Chile into a developed economy in eight years.

The economy has grown at an average pace of 2% over the past four years, but surged 3.9% in January. Analysts are predicting 3.5% growth this year.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    sebastian pinera  |  chile

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.