Mar 192012

The Forbes magazine list of the world’s richest individuals in 2011 consists of more than 1500 individuals, each with a wealth of one billion dollars or more. Eleven Mexicans (all men, but one more than last year) made the list. The eleven richest Mexicans are:

World rank / Name / Estimated wealth according to Forbes / Main business interests

#1 Carlos Slim Helú and family, 69.0 billion dollars, making him the richest man in the world. Fixed line telephone provider Telmex, cell phone provider América Móvil, Grupo Carso, Inbursa. [Slim Helú stays in top spot]

#37 Ricardo Salinas Pliego and family, 17.4 billion dollars. Television company Televisón Azteca, domestic appliance store Elektra, bank Banco Azteca, and cell phone company Iusacell [Salinas Pliego gained 26 places in the ranking]

#38 Alberto Bailleres and family, 16.5 billion dollars. Mining giant Peñoles, department store El Palacio de Hierro and Grupo Profuturo [almost doubled his wealth in 2011, up 44 places]

#72 Germán Larrea Mota Velasco and family, 14.2 billion dollars. Grupo México – mining for copper and other minerals

#276 Jerónimo Arango and family, 4 billion dollars. Founder of Aurrerá supermarket chain and Grupo Cifra which controlled VIPS and El Portón restaurant chains, Suburbia department stores and tourist developments in Baja California Peninsula and Acapulco

#634 Emilio Azcárraga, 2.0 billion dollars. Television and media conglomerate Televisa,and Nextel cell phones

#683 Roberto Gonzalez Barrera 1.9 billion dollars. Banking and tortillas

#913 Carlos Hank Rhon & family, 1.4 billion dollars. Banking

#960 Roberto Hernández, 1.3 billion dollars. Banker, one of main shareholders of Citigroup, and tourist developments in the Yucatán Peninsula

#1153 (equal) Alfredo Harp Helú and family, 1 billion dollars. Shareholder in Citibank, telecommunications firm Avantel

#1153 (equal) Joaquín Guzmán Loera (aka “El Chapo”), 1 billion dollars. Mexico’s most wanted man, head of the Sinaloa drugs cartel, the main supplier of cocaine to the US market

The combined total wealth of these eleven individuals is a staggering 129.7 billion dollars (compared to the billionaires’ total of 90.3 billion dollars in 2010). The 2011 figure is equivalent to more than 6% of Mexico’s GDP.

The average earnings of Mexican workers registered in IMSS (Mexico’s Social Security Institute) is about 230 pesos a day or $6,600 (dollars) a year. The combined wealth of Mexico’s eleven richest individuals is therefore equivalent to the total annual salaries of 19.65 million Mexicans earning this average salary! [Last year, the combined wealth of Mexican billionaires was equivalent to “only” 14.3 million Mexicans earning the then average salary.]

Clearly, there are a handful of extremely wealthy individuals living in Mexico, alongside millions of Mexicans who are living at or below the poverty line. These income disparities have existed for a very long time, and are examined in detail in chapter 14 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. That chapter also analyzes the spatial patterns of wealth in Mexico, and discusses whether the gap between rich and poor has widened or narrowed in recent years.

Chapter 29 discusses Gender inequities in Mexico and  Oportunidades, a poverty reduction program (both links are to excerpts from that chapter).

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