Lights and shadows of the legacy of Sebastián Piñera

* The author is part of the community of readers of La Vanguardia.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
12 February 2024 Monday 09:37
10 Reads
Lights and shadows of the legacy of Sebastián Piñera

* The author is part of the community of readers of La Vanguardia

The tragic death of Sebastián Piñera, drowned in Lake Ranco, after driving his personal helicopter, on February 6, opened the discussion about the democratic character or not of the former president in the country throughout his entire political career. his life, which was marked by not going unnoticed until the end.

For this reason, different voices and sectors have come out, either to defend or question his legacy, mentioning his lights and shadows, of which what unites them is the immense role that Piñera had at a political and economic level in the last 30 years. in Chile, being president twice and one of the richest people in the country.

That said, the figure of Piñera is very particular, if compared to other political and business figures, since he took pragmatism and opportunism to the extreme to achieve his goals, without falling into great ideological fanaticism or fixed positions. But he also did not have clear principles and a consistent ethical framework, which ended up involving him in many actions bordering on illegality.

Hence, all his life he has been a gambler and a speculator, not only to expand his fortune, but also to interact with others, which was reflected in a biography that went through his instrumental and individualistic connection with politics and with some causes, without much conviction, in order to try to appear as a protagonist in front of society.

Consequently, we should not be surprised by his inconsistencies, since although he has always presented himself as a center-right person who was always against the dictatorship, at the time Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London, he was one of the first to come out in his defense, like the worst of the Pinochetistas, in order to make his political sector happy and benefit from it by gaining notoriety.

The same when he presented himself as a great public servant, despite having a true record of alleged irregularities and conflicts of interest with the business world, as is explained in detail in this column by journalist Daniel Matamala, where he highlights the financial scandal in the Bank of Talca, the Pandora papers, his purchase of shares in the LAN company with insider information, the creation of zombie companies to evade taxes, the Chispas case, the Exalmar case.

It is no coincidence, therefore, that he was not able to understand the meaning of the student mobilizations of 2011 and 2012, and used the expression that education was a consumer good in the midst of the protests, showing indolence and complete disconnection with the society he was living in, as if Chile were not a country with enormous discomfort for feeling abused and for its indebtedness, within a brutally unequal and segregated system.

His neoliberal and technocratic vision of the world, but always in his own way, led him to sell himself as a promoter of economic growth, entrepreneurship and an expert in management, which served to hide his infinite ambition and his obsession with appearing. and have recognition at all costs, which constantly made him commit clumsiness in activities of all kinds, which earned him the title of Piñericosas.

With this I am not saying that he has not had certain successes during his administration as a government, such as the reconstruction after the 2010 earthquake, the rescue of the miners that same year or the management of the pandemic in health terms, but to be president he You also need to know how to listen, communicate with others who think differently, and connect with society, not just respond quickly to disasters.

It can also be said that he was never a conservative fanatic, since during his governments he did not oppose important laws for the LGBTIQ movement, for example, such as the civil union agreement law, the gender identity law and the equal marriage, but that openness went anywhere the moment it positioned itself against the constitution written by the Constitutional Convention in 2022, which was precisely a text that incorporated different historically excluded sectors, but it quickly joined the chorus of the most reactionary groups in the country.

But the most serious thing of all, which marks a before and after in his political life in a bad way, was his reaction to the social revolt of 2019, where instead of listening to the demands of the citizens, he declared war. to a mobilized people.

His defenders will say that he was the president who supported the Agreement for Peace and the New Constitution, after that November 15, 2019, where Congress began an unprecedented institutional constituent process, but the damage and terror generated by the forces of State had already been caused, so it was a lifesaver for the former president, using this constituent exit opportunistically to try to clean up his image that was on the ground and increase citizen support that was plummeting against him, which reached the 6% approval.

Likewise, some of us naively believed in the possibility that Piñera would lead a liberal and democratic right, after in the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the coup d'état in 2013, he closed the Cordillera Penitentiary, where human rights violators were packed. of privileges, as well as when he pointed out the idea of ​​passive accomplices, with respect to civilians who were complicit in the dictatorship.

However, on the 50th anniversary of the coup d'état, last 2023, despite having signed a letter called Commitment: For Democracy, always, he did not want to attend the commemorative event at the La Moneda Palace, alluding to a climate of confrontation at that moment, thus not being up to the historical moment of the country, which needed all the former leaders on that day to be present, regardless of their differences.

Given everything mentioned above, Sebastián Piñera leaves behind a political act focused on himself, who until the last minute of his life believed that he could control everything in his own way, without caring about the circumstances, the consequences and the messages that his family gave him. environment, which true to its style, never considered them.