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Lebanese politicians, in the foot steps of Carlos Slim

Lebanese politicians, in the foot steps of Carlos Slim

The richest man in the world is of Lebanese descent! Why we are not surprised?
His father, Julián Slim Haddad Aglamaz, is a Lebanese Christian from Jezzine, who moved as a teenager to Mexico City in 1902.
For many years now the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, has lead the list of richest men on the planet. Not anymore! He has been recently dethroned by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helu, whose fortune is now at an estimated $67.8 billion equivalent to 8% of Mexico's gross domestic product, compared with $59.2 billion for the Microsoft mogul! Carlos’s name always dwelled between the first 3 on the list. It is said that recent gains in his shares of the America Movil group are largely responsible for this recent increase of wealth.

Slim accumulates his fortune by buying out and collecting undervalued companies, infusing them with cash and then using the size of his holdings to overwhelm the competition. He also integrates them so that they do as much business as possible with each other, keeping all the gained profits in the system.

He owns controlling stakes in well over 222 businesses, and has a substantial influence over the telecommunications industry in Mexico and in much of Latin America (He controls Telefonos de Mexico-Telmex, Telcel and America Movil companies). His empire is so big and prominent, it is believed that no Mexican lives a day without buying one of his products. As soon as they come to this world, they start making Slim richer (They might be born in one of Slim’s Star Médica hospitals)! Mexicans burn fuels pumped from Swecomex drilling platforms to drive on roads paved by the CILSA construction company.

Once at home or in their offices, they communicate through Telmex phone lines and use electricity carried by Condumex brand cables.
It’s now time to have a bite; they eat out and shop at the Plaza Insurgentes shopping centre, a property owned by Slim in Mexico City or even at Sears Roebuck of Mexico, a subsidiary of his huge Carso Group, all this time walking on tiles by Slim’s Porcelanite ceramics company. They also smoke Slim's tobacco, which is sold under the Marlboro brand. The long list includes banking, insurance, brokerage and internet services, and involves large numbers of retail stores and restaurants. Pretty soon the air they breathe will also be a Slim’s Brand!

Slim seems to be a role model to many corrupt Lebanese politicians.
Originally, Slim built all this empire around his cash cow the telephone monopoly Telmex, which he bought in a 1991 privatization. Since then, the empire has not ceased to grow. It is a bit too similar to what many Lebanese politicians have done or are working on doing here in Lebanon, day in and day out. Some just can’t control their excitement for privatization, and use their authority to bend rules and regulations in order to distance competing offers and ultimately winning bids they don’t really deserve. This is how many public services are being acquired, including the latest ADSL internet services in Lebanon, the cellular phone lines services before that, or even the acquisition of properties in down town Beirut which was imposed by force upon plot owners.

Although he believes that poverty isn't solved with donations (denouncing Bill Gates and Warren Buffett practices of channelling the majority of their fortunes to philanthropy), Slim is known to give back. He created several charitable foundations, which have benefited hundreds of thousands of Mexicans. He has also funded hospitals, a national archive and an art museum named after his late wife Soumaya.

Will our Lebanese politicians also give back a bit of what they took from the Lebanese people?

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