Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Holiday Prayer For the Slow, Painful Death of Carlos Slim

This International Consortium for Investigative Journalism report on the legal and extra-legal lobbying by the Mexican tobacco industry (also available in Spanish here) came out a few months ago, but we only just got around to reading it, and so would like to take a moment during this holiday season to say fuck you, Carlos Slim, you evil, money-grubbing douchebag.

(Typing quickly now, before our internet connection is severed by TelMex...)

Carlos Slim Helú is more than a tobacco baron —he is the world’s wealthiest person, worth an estimated $54 billion, according to Forbes magazine. As a telecommunications and retail tycoon, Slim’s unrivaled clout reaches deep into the Mexican political system. His early fortune fed off tobacco, and he remains a major player in the industry. His longtime tobacco company was Cigarros La Tabacalera Mexicana, and he holds a particular fondness for the Mexican brands Delicados and Faros. Although in 2007 his holding company reduced its stake in Philip Morris de Mexico from 50 percent to 20 percent, ICIJ estimates, based on public securities filings, that his tobacco business last year was worth $284 million. Between 1997 and 2006, Slim was a director with Philip Morris International’s former parent company, Altria. Today he serves on the board of Philip Morris International, whose Marlboro brand accounts for nearly half the Mexican market.

“Tell me, do you believe anyone in this country… will deny an audience to one of his aides?” asked Rafael Camacho Solis, a leading tobacco control advocate. "I think no one really wants to be in a fight with Slim in this country. In no other place is there another man who is so rich, and who has so much control over things that can affect an entire country.”

Critics of Mexico’s slow pace on tobacco control say Slim’s clout in Mexico on behalf of Philip Morris, and a strong lobbying push by BAT, persuaded the government that it’s better to seek deals with the industry than fight it.

Evidence of this influence is in documents obtained from the Mexican Ministry of Health that show Philip Morris and BAT representatives attended at least 30 meetings with regulators between May 2003 and June 2004. At many, if not all, of these meetings, no other outside interest was represented, sources told ICIJ. Officials who attended the meetings recall them as more like friendly talks.

There was a fair amount of outrage in Mexico last year when Forbes named Sinaloa cartel chief Chapo Guzman to their billionaires list - along with Slim (the only two Mexicans to make the list). What does it say about our country (or at least its image) that a law-breaking mass-murder is our second-richest person? the pundits wondered.

We'll leave it to the lawyers to determine what laws, if any Carlos Slim has broken, but as far as mass-murder goes, Carlos Slim has no equal in Mexico. It would be impossible to quantify just how many of the 10,000 drug war deaths this year are attributable to Guzman, so let wildly overestimate and say half - 5,000. If Carlos Slim owns 20 percent of the company that controls two-thirds of the Mexican tobacco market, then his share of the 60,000 Mexicans killed this year by his industry comes to 8,000. And that doesn't factor in the effect his actions have in bolstering the segment of the business not under his direct control. So even when you stack the math in Chapo's favor, there's no beating Carlos Slim.

And yet which one of these guys is the Most Wanted Man in Mexico?


carlos slim said...

I am truly an embarrassment to Mexico because I sucked 54 billion dollars (789 gazillion pesos) out of my country people’s pockets for pinche cell phones

Anonymous said...

But Carlos Slim could get rid of his entire tobacco holdings and it wouldn't affect him. He has so much else, mines, telecommunications, restaurants, retail, real estate, hospitality, airline, etc. etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

both handle drugs, one legal and the other illegal, the only difference is that with slim his clients want to die, they know the consecuences, more now with the dead baby pictures in the cigarette boxes. With chapo, his clients are also willing to die for the product, but also to kill for it. And it means killing even innocent people. I really do not care for those who died using cigars and cigarrettes, they know it can kill, and still they decided to use them, nobody force them.

I'm pro legalization of all drugs, with education, taxes and control.