For the second consecutive year, Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim Helú topped the list of the world´s 1,210 richest people in US magazine Forbes. The list, published March 9, pegged Slim´s fortune at US$74 billion — more than 10 percent of Mexico´s gross domestic product or the gross domestic products of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua combined. His worth increased $20 billion over last year.
According to Forbes, Slim´s worth was ahead of Bill Gates´ $56 billion and Warren Buffet´s $40 billion. Both men, however, who participate in an initiative called “Giving Pledge,” a donation program, have not convinced Slim to participate.
Another 51 Latin Americans were included in the Forbes list, 30 of them from Brazil. But the stand-out case was Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, whose income last year increased by $200 million, putting him in spot 488 with a worth of $2.4 billion. He is still not the wealthiest Chilean, a post held by Iris Fontbona, widow of business tycoon Andrónico Luksic, whose worth totaled $19.2 billion, and was 27th on the list.
For many, these fortunes are an insult amid such rampant poverty in the region, where nearly one-third of the 588 million Latin American and Caribbean residents is poor, living on less than $2 a day, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The list highlights the gap between rich and poor in Latin America, considered the most unequal in the world, where the 20 wealthiest percent holds close to 57 percent of the total wealth and the 20 poorest percent shares 3.5 percent, according to United Nations figures.