Last week, I published an excellent piece by Andy Smolski about Mexican oligarch Carlos Slim’s influence at the New York Times, where he own 17 percent of Class A shares, and how that might effect the newspaper’s coverage. I suggested a few stories for Times reporters to look into, but suspect they won’t because it would require them being honest in covering one of the richest men in the world and a ruthless businessman who has profited at the expense of his country’s poor and has the nerve to portray himself as a “philanthropist” because he donates a few crumbs to and establishing various “charitable” ventures.
Slim reminds me of some rich American guy, but I can’t think who. Anyway, one of the topics I suggested that Times reporters look into was Slim’s relationship to Bill Clinton and his family foundation. Slim is allegedly one of its biggest donors and he does business in a number of countries where he and Bill Clinton have overlapping interests, allegedly of a charitable nature, like Colombia.
Here’s another story the Times might want to look into and this really gets my blood boiling. I’ve been told that there were some problems between Slim and Shakira’s foundation in Colombia, ALAS. Back in 2008, Slim very publicly announced that he was donating $100 million to the foundation for “children’s causes” and he got a raft of good publicity out of it, and even met with Shakira. The Times, his newspaper, did a glowing story about the whole thing and three years later Forbes did a piece saying that Slim was “one of the world’s biggest philanthropists,” and cited his contribution to Shakira’s foundation as evidence.
It sounds like, based on what I was told by two sources, that Slim never delivered that $100 million, or at least he didn’t deliver all of it. I spoke to two people at Shakira’s foundation in Colombia and they declined specific comment, but one did emphasize forcefully that ALAS no longer had any sort of relationship with Carlos Slim.
I asked Slim’s foundation in Mexico for comment and thus far have not heard back.
[Disclosure: OK, I’m going to level with you. I’m pretty crazy for Shakira. I’m totally in the tank for her. I’d be pleased if she were to divorce her husband, some Spanish soccer player, because however long the odds she might decide to marry me or, failing that, decide I’d be a good rebound option. This all may seem superficial and juvenile but I like her music too so this is something far more profound. It’s no different than all those screaming girls who went crazy for The Beatles back in the 1960s.]
Oh yeah, about Slim and the Clinton Foundation, here’s an interesting chronology.
In September 2012, a Colombian senator introduced an antimonopoly law that would have effected Slim, who has telecommunications interests in the country.
Initial reports suggested that the country’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, who Bill Clinton knows, supported the bill and that it stood a good chance of passing congress. Santos had publicly complained about the quality of wireless service in Colombia and talked about giving regulators more power, so the bill fit his rhetoric.The following month, Slim’s local boss in Colombia complained that the bill would do away with Slim’s wireless empire in Colombia.
In May 2013, Clinton traveled to Colombia to visit a bunch of his foundation’s “philanthropic” projects and Slim and he were seen together and Slim’s son appeared at events with Clinton. (Slim and his family support Clinton Foundation projects in Colombia.) During the visit, Clinton also met with Santos in Cartagena.
The following month, in a move supported by Santos’ bloc, a Senatorial commission killed the bill, which was seen as a surprise given Santos’ previous position.
Maybe it’s all just a coincidence but I hope the Times or someone else has the resources to run this down.