Former president of Chile Sebastián Piñera dies: Five articles to understand his legacy

Ilustration by Distintas Latitudes. Used with permission.

This article was written by Distintas Latitudes and published on February 6, 2024. An edited version is republished on Global Voices under a media partnership. 

On February 6, 2024, the former president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, political leader of the country for two periods between 2010 and 2014, and between 2018 and 2022, died in a plane accident.

Piñera, who was harshly criticized for ordering the violent repression of student protests in 2019, was traveling in a helicopter that crashed in Lake Ranco in southern Chile, and was found dead by the Chilean Navy.

This is an accident confirmed by the Minister of the Interior and Public Security of Chile, Carolina Tohá, who also reported that the businessman will have his own state funeral.

[1/2] Deep sorrow for the death of former president Sebastián Piñera. I send my hug to his family, friends and collaborators, and also to all Chileans who receive this tragic event with pain.

Following his death, members of the Red LATAM de Jóvenes Periodistas (LATAM Network of Young Journalists), an initiative of Distintas Latitudes that promotes new journalistic talent in Latin America, have recommended five journalistic pieces to help us understand the legacy of the former president.

These are the selected articles:

1. Pandora Papers: Piñera and Délano families sealed the million-dollar sale of Dominga mining proyect in the British Virgin Islands by La Bot

The documents leaked in the Pandora Papers exposed the irregularities of the Dominga mining project in 2010, which was carried out in the British Virgin Islands, a territory considered a tax haven.

This investigative report exposes how the former president's family obtained a profit of 1,000 percent in 18 months as a result of the purchase of a mining company whose regulation (and main payment condition) depended on the decisions made by Sebastián Piñera's own government. The Chilean Prosecutor's Office opened an ex officio investigation against the then president.

2. The companies in which the fortune of the Piñera Morel family is founded by Ciper Chile

A deep coverage of irregularities in the tax declaration of the former president's family assets, including a series of offshore companies. It is an interesting read to understand the lack of transparency about Piñera's personal and family fortune.

3. The “zombie companies” that Piñera bought to save millions in taxes by Ciper Chile

About how the former president acquired a series of companies that declared unjustified losses to evade paying taxes or even recover taxes paid in previous years

4. ‘It’s Mutilation’: The Police in Chile Are Blinding Protesters by The New York Times

An investigation into the serious eye trauma suffered by many student protesters after the violent repression of the 2019 protests. During the protests in Chile there were 30 people killed by security forces, 25,000 arrests, 3,500 injured and 347 people with serious eye trauma from hardened rubber pellets and tear gas canisters. Eye injuries were so common during the social outbreak that they became a symbol of the fight for democracy and respect for dissidence in the country.

Screenshot of the New York Times website taken on February 7, 2024. Fair use.

5. Alejandra Matus and #EnjoyGate: “In any press room this should be a source of journalistic interest” by Diario UChile

In this piece, journalist Alejandra Matus shares her insights into Piñera's trust and reveals that the former president's signature of a decree on bidding for municipal casinos sought to save the casino company Enjoy S.A. from bankruptcy. The former president and his family were shareholders in the company.

Other recommended media to follow current events in Chile:

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