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As Not Seen in “Billions”: the Untold Story of Top New York Times’ Shareholder, Mexican Tycoon Carlos Slim

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Clinton and Slim

Opening with a surprisingly kinky sex scene, Showtime’s new TV series “Billions,” loosely based on NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s sex scandal, scores more than one million viewers each Sunday. It revolves around men and their egos on Wall Street, with hedge fund manager and billionaire Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) being chased by US Attorney for the Southern District of NY Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), who has a perfect track record of putting away deep-pocketed crooks exploiting the system that broke the economy in 2008.

There are plenty of symbolic scenes reverberating in the show, from a dog marking its territory by pissing on the millionaire’s carpet to Axelrod’s paying a fortune to stamp his name on a Metropolitan Museum’s Hall (a clear reference to the Koch Brothers carving their names on Lincoln Center’s and the Museum’s fountains), to the lead character watching “Citizen Kane” in his private screening room after the purchase of a flashy Southampton mansion.

However well-crafted, reality always proves more obscene than sex and intriguing plots though. “Billions” doesn’t top the real-life coarse irony that financial New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin is its creator. He is also the founder and editor of Deal Book, a financial news service published by the New York Times, whose main shareholder is Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim as of January 2015.

Lewis’ character Axelrod challenges justice with showy purchases. Carlos Slim marks his territory right in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art too, buying the only building on Fifth Ave. still used for residential purposes, but unlike Axelrod, he never had to face, or even fear justice for how he became three times the richest man in the world, according to “Forbes” magazine. And, when Donald Trump attacks Mexican people, he’s not talking about him.

You don’t need to look deeply into the Wikileaks April 2011 files (as published in 2013 by the “Who What Why” Website) to find disclosed emails suggesting his involvement in drug trafficking according to the DEA. All you need to do is look for the most evident, visible information about a man who started with only $5,000 million a fortune rapidly growing to more than $77 billions in a country with 50 million people who live and die far below the US poverty line.

Unlike Rhoader, no Mexican Attorney would dare to make a case against Carlos Slim. And, the one thing that NYT columnist and “Billions” creator wouldn’t tell you is that his brother, Julián Slim, was commander of the Mexican political police, working along with well-known torturer (as described by his victims) and former CIA agent Miguel Nazar Haro during the years of the “war against communists” in the 70’s. According to the tycoon’s most recent biographer, Diego Enrique Osorno,[1] Julian Slim’s college classmate and close friend was former Secretariat of the Interior’s head Mario Moya Palencia, the mind behind the many unpunished murders and crimes committed in Mexico against Government opponents during the 70’s. Actually, on January 22th, 1975, Mathematics professor Manuel López Mateos filed a complaint for kidnapping and torture against Miguel Nazar Haro and Julián Slim, commanders of the fearsome Dirección Federal de Seguridad (DFS, the Mexican equivalent of Homeland Security). The complaint was never investigated.

For alleged reasons of “national security,” the DGS justice system was not too different than a drug cartel’s vendetta. Salvador Corral García, one of the top leaders of a guerrilla group, was arrested in Sinaloa, and then secretly sent to Mexico City, where the main New York Times shareholder’s brother, Julian Slim Helú, interrogated him,[2] on February 1st, 1974. Corral was found dead with clear signs of brutal torture five days later in the same neighborhood of one of his victims, a powerful business man, as a “present” from the Mexican Government to corporate power in Monterrey City (located about 226 miles away from Mexico City).

The New York Times won’t tell you either that Julián Slim’s career fades out when his brother is granted by the Mexican Government the bid that made his fortune grow, Teléfonos de México. It was a parastatal company that the Government privatized following the standard procedure for privatizations, which is, crushing the independent union, bribing everyone else, smearing unionized workers, making the company absolutely inefficient, having the public hate and repudiate the workers, not the company, and then selling the company.

It is not difficult to imagine why the secret political agent took a low profile ever since the purchase. His brother had the only phone company of the country, a key for national security and intelligence strategies, at a time when there were no cellphones, with a special anti-constitutional clause included in the acquisition agreement.

Slim’s PR teams put a lot of time, effort and money into hiding this information, but the bid by which Slim bought Telmex at 30 percent of its value[3] included a provision allowing him the monopoly of the phone service for seven years. This clause gave him all the advantage he needed over any potential competitor. Both Slim’s publicists and the Government keep telling us the bid was “completely legal,” even though monopolies are illegal under the Mexican Constitution. Besides, in pre-digital era, it is hard to ignore the connection between the political police agent and ruling all telecommunication for seven straight years.

Even so, Carlos Slim gives lectures on how to be a successful businessperson. A comparison with Hearst wouldn’t be an exaggeration. He reacts very badly to criticism and protests. That’s why he invested money and resources in all the political parties, including the electoral leftist López Obrador’s, as well as the media and newspapers, including “La Jornada”. In the US, he filed a complaint at the California Fair Political Practices Commission against activists who dared to make fun of him when he was talking about philanthropy. In this country, he lost the case.

Slims partners with President Bill Clinton in philanthropic projects, so there is information that any media he puts his money will hide. Neither the New York Times nor Slim’s partner Larry King will tell you that the priest who celebrated his mass wedding was the infamous pedophile Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ and beloved friend of Pope John Paul II. It would tarnish his image. Maciel was found guilty of sexual abuse, drug abuse, and fathering six children. Maciel had many wealthy benefactors. His friend Pope Jean Paul II was also a good ally of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who not only privatized the parastatal phone company and granted the bid to Slim, but promoted and signed NAFTA. His brother Raúl Salinas de Gortari was charged, sentenced (and then released when Peña Nieto was made President), for money laundering operations.

Making Invisible the Most Visible

Mexico City’s area known as “Centro Histórico” (Historical Downtown) was, literally, the center of the Pre-Hispanic world, when Moctezuma ruled the Aztec Empire.

It was the New York City of ancient times.

It now belongs to Carlos Slim.

No skillful detective is required to investigate how he persuaded the allegedly progressive Mayor Andres Manuel López Obrador to evict all the street vendors and most of the poor families, low-wage workers and local business. His administration created a Foundation and a Council to “revitalize” the neighborhood with no community representatives at all – not even fake, bribed leaders – and no small-business speakers. Chaired and owned by Carlos Slim, the Council Board members included former TV news anchor who supported the massacre against the students at that very area in 1968, Jacobo Zabludowsky (magically forgiven and politically recovered by López Obrador’s party), and scholars who don’t live there but say yes on command. The only “true” resident was the daughter of a state Governor living in a mansion which is also a historic treasure.

NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was hired to “fight crime,” that is, to remove homeless people from the area, install security cameras, and let Starbucks take over.

It is no secret either that Mr. Slim’s nephew, the son of the political police agent Julián Slim, is now the phone company’s CEO.

You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes or Bob Woodward (especially the latter) to know that the Mexican tycoon’s son in law, architect Fernando Romero, along with British architect Norman Foster, has been granted the bid to build an airport in Atenco, México State, in spite of the uncompromising opposition of the peasants who own the land in co-op.

Reality turns out to be more obscene and less fun than “Billions” because 28 women of the Atenco rural town opposing to the construction of the airport were sexually tortured by Federal Police Corps in May 2006, as authorized by then Governor Enrique Peña Nieto. The three main leaders of the Peoples’ Front to Defend Atenco Land (FPDT is the Spanish acronym) Ignacio del Valle, Felipe Álvarez and Héctor Galindo, were sentenced to serve 112 years in prison the first one and 67 ½ the other two. They were absolved five years later due to public pressure across the world, especially from the Mexican immigrant community in NYC headed by Movement for Justice in El Barrio, whose members protested inside the Mexican Consulate, forcing officers to shut down the offices in May 4th, 2009.

The raped women of Atenco continued fighting and mobilizing to this day.

Notes. 

[1] “Slim: Biografía política del mexicano más rico del mundo”, Mexico, 2015, Debate.

[2] DFS File #11-235-L6, pages 163-167, according to Diego Enrique Osorno’s book.

[3] “Our Report to Occupy Wall Street: Slim’s Paradox,” by journalist Óscar E. Ornelas.

Malú Huacuja del Toro is a feminist Mexican novelist, playwright and screenwriter with eight fiction published books in Spanish. She wrote the first “anti-soap opera” in Mexico, produced in 1988. She is also an activist for Ayotzinapa and the Zapatista movement. She lives in New York. Her play “Gigantic Details – The Unauthorized Adventure of Mrs. Quixota” was selected by the Venus and Adonis Theater Festival. She can be reached at: otroslibros@otroslibros.com

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