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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkEditorials | October 2006 

Mexican Magnates Make More Money
email this pageprint this pageemail usAllan Wall -

The wealthiest Mexican of all is Carlos Slim, the third-richest man in the world, right behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. And Slim is getting richer.
Mexico is a desperately poor country, weíre constantly told, and if we donít open the borders all those poor Mexicans will starve to death. Itís not true, but itís an argument used to make middle class Americans feel guilty enough to tolerate mass immigration. By world standards Mexico is not that poor but compared to the United States it is. About half the country lives below the poverty line. Itís not because thereís no money here in Mexico. Thereís a lot. Mexico has a fabulously wealthy upper class.

Mexico has at least 10 billionaires, and thatís in addition to mere millionaires, of which there are many. (And when I say millionaires and billionaires, I refer to dollar millionaires and billionaires). The wealthiest Mexican of all is Carlos Slim, the third-richest man in the world, right behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. And Slim is getting richer.

In March, Forbes reported that Slim was worth 30 billion dollars. In August, the Arizona Republic reported his wealth at 37.6 billion Apparently Carlos Slim made 7.6 billion more dollars in just five months. Not too shabby. So what is Carlos Slim doing to help poorer Mexicans? Well, letís be fair. Slim has a few charitable foundations with endowments adding up to about $3 billion dollars. Thatís commendable. Reuters reported in September that Slim is willing to give away part of his wealth to help poorer Mexicans. The Reuters article reported that ď...Carlos Slim, the world's third-richest man, will give away a chunk of his fortune by matching donations to health, education and social programs in Mexico, a close aide said Wednesday.Ē

The aide, Arturo Elias, explained the Slim giveaway plan: "We want to offer Mexican or foreign foundations that we will match any amount they invest in social work in Mexico. The idea is social programs focused on real needs: education, health, nutrition, research," That sounds good, as far as it goes, but itís still vague. If Slim really wants to help reduce Mexican poverty, it seems to me that investing in employment-providing enterprises is the way to go. More jobs and better-paid jobs.

Well, Reuters tells us, Slimís thought of that:

ďSlim has in recent years become increasingly vocal about the need to create more jobs and improve education in Mexico.Ē

Well, the guy has 37 billion dollars. Whatís he waiting for? He can invest his money right now!

Slim has advice for Mexican politicians as well ď He (Carlos Slim) spearheaded an initiative in 2005 that called on politicians to reform Mexico's justice system, fight crime, boost public finances, improve health and education and develop infrastructure.Ē

OK, thatís all great, but how about looking for more ways to use his own money to invest in job-creating enterprises in Mexico?

Itís encouraging though that even the mainstream media is noticing Mexican wealth these days. Check out an informative article for the Arizona Republic entitled ďMexicoís Rich Build DynastiesĒ. So what are Mexican magnates doing with their wealth ? Well, some of it they are investing in the United States. In 2005, Mexican plutocrats had 6.7 billion dollars invested in the United States.

You might even be buying their products. Some are obvious. Corona beer for example. Thatís owned by Maria Asuncion, Mexicoís richest woman whoís now the wife of Tony Garza, Bush crony and U.S. ambassador to Mexico. But a lot of Mexican products are things weíd have never guessed. How about Mabe? Thatís a Mexican-owned company that manufactures 35% of the refrigerators and stoves in the U.S. Other Mexican-owned products are Thomas English muffins, Oroweat bread, Entenmann pastries.

Grupo Mťxico, owned by the Larrea family, owns a few mines in Arizona. Carlos Slim owns the CompUSA chain, America Můvil and part of Saks Fifth Avenue, and the Texas Supreme Court just handed him a victory in a big lawsuit (Gana Grupo Carso Pleito Legal en Estados Unidos, Notimex, August 30th). The biggest cement company in the U.S.A is Mexicoís Cemex firm, owned by the Zambrano family.

Now my question is, if these guys are so rich Ė why canít they invest more money in Mexico ? If they can buy up enterprises in the U.S. and other countries,why canít they build more factories in Mexico? Why canít they invest in depressed rural areas? Why canít Mexicoís super-rich get together and put together a development plan for Mexico? And why doesnít the government of Mexico put more pressure on Slim and other magnates? According to the Mexican Constitution, Article 25, the government of Mexico is responsible for the guidance of the Mexican economy.

So why doesnít the Mexican government use its constitutional authority to pressure Mexican tycoons to invest more in Mexico? Why doesnít the Mexican congress change Mexicoís tax laws to encourage more domestic investment. There are ways to do it. The reason is Mexican leaders already have another economic program. Mexican political leaders (of all parties) and Mexican tycoons prefer this other economic program, because itís much simpler for them. The other, preferred economic program is called EMIGRATION.

For Mexican magnates, itís easier to buy up U.S. companies than figure out how to create more jobs in Mexico.

After all, they have the American taxpayer to take up the slack north of the border. And thatís just fine with our own president, isnít it ?
Allan Wall is an American citizen who has been teaching English in Mexico since 1991, and writing articles about various aspects of Mexico and Mexican society for the past decade. Some of these articles are about Mexico's political scene, history and culture, tourism, and Mexican emigration as viewed from south of the border, which you can read on his website at

Click HERE for more articles by Allan Wall.

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