President Mauricio Macri (left) and then Chilean President-elect Sebastián Piñera meeting prior to Piñera's inauguration as president in March. (Handout Argentine Presidency)

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has named his brother Pablo Piñera as ambassador to Argentina, replacing outgoing Ambassador José Antonio Viera-Gallo.

Pablo Piñera is an economist by training, and according to a press release by the Chilean Foreign Minstry, holds degrees from the Universidad Católica de Chile and Boston University. The president’s brother was a member for 47 years of Chile’s Christian Democrats (PDC), and held government positions during the Concertación – the center-left coalition that arose after the end of the dictatorship. Pablo Piñera left the PDC at the end of 2017 and Sebastián Piñera was sworn-in as president in March of this year.

The new ambassador, who has had several positions in the banking sector as well as in the academic world in the fields of banking, economics, and international affairs, was given immediate approval from the Mauricio Macri administration when he was proposed by Santiago. Presidents Piñera and Macri are close allies, and the relationship between Santiago and Buenos Aires is at a high point following the change of government in Argentina.

Buenos Aires is one of the key destinations for the Chilean Foreign Ministry, and the announcement was made at the same time as the appointment of Chilean ambassadors to Brazil (Fernando Schmidt Ariztía) and the United Nations (Milenko Skoknic Tapia).

The appointment of Piñera’s brother has revived accusations of nepotism from the Chilean opposition, and today Chilean Foreign Minister rejected the criticism saying, “no, I think that we need to separate things. What is central here are the technical qualities of the person that has been named ambassador in Argentina,” according to La Tercera

President Piñera will travel to Argentina and Brazil next week for his first bilateral visits as head of state.