Chile bids farewell to former President Piñera at a state funeral News
Sebastian Piñera died Wednesday in a helicopter crash in southern Chile.
State funeral for former Chilean President Sebastián Pinera He died After the helicopter he was piloting crashes into a lake, the action takes place in the capital, Santiago.
“Today, we share the shock of the tragic passing of a man, father, husband, grandfather and public figure who was a pioneer in our transition to democracy,” President Gabriel Buric said during the ceremony held in the country’s former Congress on Friday.
Pinera (74 years old) died on Tuesday, and the official funeral ceremony began on Wednesday in the capital with a private viewing before it was opened to the public.
On Friday, a military band wearing red conical hats played as Piñera’s coffin, draped in the Chilean flag, was escorted to a cathedral in Santiago by guards on horseback for his funeral mass.
He will be buried later in a private family ceremony attended by his widow, four children and grandchildren.
Piñera, a conservative billionaire who was first elected from 2010 to 2014, has overseen periods of strong economic growth, but has also continued protests. Buric himself was a student protest leader during Piñera’s first term, demanding education reforms.
“These days some remember that we were political rivals. “That’s true,” the leftist Buric said, adding that the two were able to reach a compromise and even spoke the day before his death to discuss recent deadly wildfires that killed 131 people in central Chile.
“Unity in memory”
Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman said in a report from Santiago that large crowds of people had gathered since the early hours of Friday morning to pay their last respects to the former president.
“This was a very emotional funeral. Not only because the former president left office two years ago, but also because of the way he died in such a dramatic and unexpected way. So people are showing their respect not only for the former president but also for the man he was,” she added.
Piñera also supervised the rescue of 33 miners who were trapped under the Atacama Desert. The event caused a sensation in the global media and was the subject of a 2014 film called The 33.
Some of the 33 Chilean miners rescued in Piñera’s bold gamble were also present at the funeral, Newman said.
One of the miners, Juan Carlos Aguilar, recalled the excitement after hearing about the former president when they first contacted him.
“Imagine hearing the president say: ‘We will look for you as if you were our own children.’” “I will never forget it,” Aguilar told Reuters news agency.
During Pinera’s second term from 2018 to 2022, widespread and often violent protests against inequality broke out in 2019 and ended with promises to draft a new constitution. Piñera also oversaw the country’s pandemic response.
“(Pinera) has been heavily criticized in part for his business dealings and because of the human rights violations that occurred during his term in 2019…but today, church members are asking all Chileans to work together and unite in memory of the former president,” Newman said.
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