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article imageSebastian Pinera taking over as Chilean president

By Alex Harrison     Mar 11, 2010 in World
Chile's new leader, Sebastian Pinera, is set to take up the presidency later today. He comes into office in the aftermath of last month's earthquake which caused billions of dollars worth of damage.
Billionaire Sebastian Pinera was elected in January, defeating Eduardo Frei who also served as president from 1994 to 2000.
Pinera faces a difficult task with much of the country heavily damaged after the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck on Feb. 27., but he seems upbeat about the challenge. According to the BBC, he said, "We won't be the government of the earthquake, we'll be the government of reconstruction."
Pinera based much of his election campaign on using his business expertise to simulate economic growth and create new jobs, but after the earthquake it looks like many of his plans will have to change. Estimates peg the cost of reconstruction anywhere between $12-$30 billion USD.
"A responsible government has to refocus, re-evaluate and redesign its programme," Rodrigo Hinzpeter, Pinera's interior and campaign minister said. "But we won't use the earthquake as an excuse to abandon the key promises of our campaign."
Popular outgoing president Michelle Bachelet who has an approval rating of 84 percent was not eligible for reelection, as Chilean presidents can only serve for one term.
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