Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Meet Mexican Carlos Slim: The Face of a NAFTA Corporatist Oligarch

Republicans are notorious for praising "Free Trade Agreements". In reality, these trade agreements that literally comprise thousands of pages of corporatist/lobbyist lawyer written gobbledygook are nothing more than protectionist agreements that carve out spheres of protectionism and influence for monopolists and multi-national corporations. A shining example of a fraudulent free trade agreement is NAFTA and Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world on most days, and a man who accumulated vast wealth by bribing Mexican government officials to grant him an exclusive telecom monopoly on nearly all wireless and and landline communications in Mexico. Slim is Mexico's telecom king. Apparently, Slim also has the political clout and power to carve out a slice of Obama's free phone program that cost American taxpayers nearly $2 billion a year.

A Mexican telecom mogul who holds the title of world’s richest man, and one of President Obama’s top donors are both getting even richer from the U.S. government program that supplies so-called “Obamaphones” to the poor.
Carlos Slim, who has an estimated net worth of $70 billion, owns a controlling stake in TracFone, which makes $10 per phone for each device it provides to poor Americans. The company, whose president and CEO is Frederick “F.J.” Pollak, also makes money from extra minutes and data plans it sells to subscribers who get phones and service through the government’s Lifeline program. The program, which began in the mid-1980s, has exploded in the past four years after being expanded from supplying landlines to the poor to providing cellular phones.
The US has some highly efficient and low cost telecom providers. Yet, they are banned from competing in Mexico because of the monopoly of Slim, a monopoly facility in part by NAFTA. In fact, the rip off to Mexican telecom consumers is getting noticed.

Monopolies 'scamming' Mexican voters
World's richest man Carlos Slim owns much of Mexico’s communications industry, and critics say he is hurting consumers.
Mexico City, Mexico - Compared with more than 50,000 dead bodies as a result of drug violence, Carlos Monroy's sky-high mobile phone bill might not seem like a big deal.
But monopolies or oligopolies in telecommunications, food processing, energy, alcohol, television and other sectors are holding back Mexico's growth, according analysts and consumers.
"For young people, the telephone system is the worst monopoly," Monroy, a political student in Mexico City told Al Jazeera. "The internet is slow compared to how much you pay, and the service is terrible."
He realised Mexicans were getting what he called "an unfair deal" during a student exchange in France, where consumers were offered far better service and faster internet for similar costs.
Mexicans Overcharged for Billions by Carlos Slim's Telecom Empire
The Mexican telecommunications industry, which is dominated by billionaire Carlos Slim, overcharged customers for telephone and Internet services to the tune of $13.4 billion a year from 2005 to 2009, according to an Organization for Co-operation and Development (OECD) study released Monday.
And you probably thought your AT&T contract was bad.
Such price-gouging, combined with unrealized subscriptions due to high pricing, cost the Mexican economy $129 billion over the five-year period reviewed, or about 2 percent of the country's annual gross domestic product, the report said.
Isn't free trade just great? Well, it would be if trade was truly free. But Republicans, Democrats, oligarchs, plutocrats, fascists and corporatists won't allow free trade because free trade translates to real competition, lower consumer cost and wipes out the crony capitalist practice of protectionism, not to mention gobs of stolen consumer money that fills campaign coffers of the political class.

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