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Chile earthquake: President-elect takes reins, though he's not in charge yet

March 5, 2010 |  9:08 am

Sebastian_pinera_chile A week before he takes office, Chilean President-elect Sebastian Pinera is already operating like a man in charge as his nation reels from one of history's strongest earthquakes. He is directing relief efforts, touring disaster sites, appointing Cabinet members -- and gently criticizing the way his soon-to-be predecessor has handled the disaster.

Pinera, 60, who is one of Chile's wealthiest investors, on Thursday noted what he found to be the "weaknesses, discoordination and deficiencies" in the quake response efforts led by outgoing President Michelle Bachelet.

"We will not be the government of the earthquake," the silver-haired Pinera said, speaking at his former campaign headquarters as he announced his appointments of officials to govern six of Chile's regions. "We will be the government of reconstruction."

It was lost on no one that his appointee to head the region surrounding hard-hit Concepcion, Chile's second-largest city, was that city's mayor, one of the most vocal critics of Bachelet.

Pinera will assume the presidency Thursday as the first conservative to lead Chile since the end of a brutal military dictatorship two decades ago.

Continue reading "Chile's Pinera takes reins, though he's not in charge yet" by Daniel Hernandez.

Photo: Chilean President-elect Sebastian Pinera tours a disaster site in Concepcion, one of many he has visited since the earthquake. Credit: Francesco Degasperi / AFP/Getty Images


Photos: 8.8 earthquake rocks Chile

Audio slide show: Photographer's report from earthquake zone Constitucion, Chile