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Conservative Pinera begins second term as Chile’s president

By Reuters - Mar 11,2018 - Last updated at Mar 11,2018

Chilean new President Sebastian Pinera (right) and his wife Cecilia Morel leave the congress in Valparaiso, Chile, after the swearing-in ceremony on Sunday (AFP photo)

SANTIAGO — Conservative billionaire Sebastian Pinera was sworn in as Chile's president on Sunday, returning to the job after four years of centre-left rule with promises to revive investments in the world's top copper producer.

Pinera, who governed Chile from 2010 to 2014, accepted the presidential sash from outgoing socialist president Michelle Bachelet in a ceremony in the Pacific port city of Valparaiso.

Pinera was elected in December with a strong mandate, marking a new rightward shift in South America after conservative leaders rose to power in Peru, Brazil and Argentina.

His second term begins as prices for copper exports are rising, bolstering government revenues and driving growth in Chile's $250 billion economy.

But he will face a divided congress and a prickly leftist coalition that has vowed to fight his plans to lower taxes and "refine" Bachelet's progressive policies.

Presidents from across the region attended Pinera's swearing-in ceremony, including Brazil's Michel Temer, Mexico's Enrique Pena Nieto, Bolivia's Evo Morales and Argentina's Mauricio Macri.

The 68-year old Pinera and his wife waved at supporters as they passed through streets packed with cheering Chileans waving the national flag.

Pinera was scheduled to deliver a speech later on Sunday.

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