Forbes Magazine is out with its latest list of the world's billionaires. One of the newer faces on the list is fidel castro, according to the Wall Street Journal editorial titled Fidel's Fortune. The article is in the 'members only' part of the online Journal. (Why they want to keep their opinions private is beyond me.) But since I subscribe to both the print and the web WSJ, here is some fair and reasonable, purely academic use:
March 15, 2005; Page A20
"He didn't make it into the billionaire category, but Fidel Castro nonetheless earned an honorable mention on Forbes magazine's annual list of the World's Richest People out this month. And why not? With a net worth of $550 million, this is one bit of media recognition that El Jefe actually deserves.
According to Forbes, the Cuban leader committed to "socialism or death" has made a killing from a "web of state-owned businesses" -- all of which have no competition in the worker's paradise. Castro's most profitable operations include a convention center, a retail conglomerate and a company called Medicuba that sells pharmaceuticals made on the island, reports the magazine. Not mentioned are Cuba's biggest exports -- seafood, tobacco, sugar and nickel -- which, as El Maximo Lider of the communist regime, Fidel naturally benefits from too.
Castro's business savvy isn't limited to the maintenance of monopolies. He is also adept at turning confiscated property into dollars. In 1993 Castro sold 50% of Havana Club rum, which he had expropriated decades earlier, to the French liquor company Pernod Ricard for, as Forbes notes, $50 million.
Meanwhile, the rest of Cuba is so poor that food is rationed; as of 2003 each person was limited to a pound of chicken a month, according to the Cuba Transition Project at the University of Miami. But at least Cubans aren't being exploited by wealthy capitalists."
This fine opinion and the very words used to express it is the fully protected and copyrighted property of Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Copyright © 2005 All Rights Reserved Don't get the wrong idea!
Update: more at: fidel's Fortune on Babalu Blog