“Is it possible to live a day in Mexico without making Carlos Slim richer?” by BBC mundo

“When buying bread, in every phone call, in text messages or internet communications. The companies of magnate Carlos Slim Helú are present in most of the daily activities of Mexicans.

Noon on a hot April day in Mexico City, one of those times when office air conditioning is a great relief.

While the room is cooling, a couple of calls reach your cell phone.

The internet connection of the computer is running and in one of the news sites that is visited there is advertising for a restaurant. It is a normal day of work. But behind each of these small daily activities there is a name that repeats itself: Carlos Slim Helú.

In one way or another, the companies of the magnate accompanied those minutes at the BBC office in Mexico:

The cables that connect the air conditioner were manufactured by Condumex, one of its companies.

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The mobile phone was contracted with Telcel, one of his most profitable companies.

The advertising on the news site is from Sanborns a successful chain of restaurants that is one of Slim’s most beloved businesses.

And although the internet service is not from a company of the tycoon, the contracted company pays a fee to use the infrastructure built by the corporate América Móvil, owned by the entrepreneur.

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Some years ago, the phrase “all of Mexico is Slim territory” became popular.

Today it could be added: every minute of living in this country increases, in some way, the fortune of one of the richest men in the world.

Can you live in Mexico without contributing a utility to Carlos Slim? It’s hard. His footprint is present in places and moments that many would think alien to the businessman.

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To get to the office I usually use my car. A few months ago it was necessary to change shock absorbers.

The spare parts that were placed are of the Gabriel brand, manufactured in a company linked to the tycoon.

In the area where the BBC headquarters are located in Mexico, the Colonia Roma, many use bicycles for transportation.

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In each pedal move the shadow of Slim. Since 1986, the businessman owns Bimex, one of the leading manufacturers of these vehicles in Mexico.

In the Mexican capital smoking is not allowed in restaurants or public places, but every day, during lunch or dinner, there are plenty of diners with cigarettes in hand outside of business to comply with the rules.

One of the brands with the most consumption in the country is Marlboro, manufactured by Cigatam tobacco company, of which Carlos Slim owns 20% of the shares.

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When the new BBC office was installed (June 2018, the previous one was damaged in the 2017 earthquake),the only internet provider in the neighborhood was Axtel.

The service is paid every month and the nearest place to do it is Plaza Insurgentes, controlled by one of Slim Helú’s corporations.

Axtel rents space in the shopping center, as do cinemas, restaurants and banks.

The tycoon’s corporation controls or owns this type of business in Yucatán, Tabasco, Quintana Roo, Jalisco or the State of Mexico.

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But in addition to the work environment, the presence of the tycoon also appears in my family life, and millions of people. 

When our parents, who do not live in Mexico City, visit us, one of the places they visit is the Basilica of Guadalupe, the most important Catholic sanctuary in the country.

In 2010 the atrium of the church was remodeled. The Plaza Mariana, as the space is called, was built for free by Grupo Carso, by Slim.

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It is not all. In some trips by road with the family or for some work coverage, in the collection of the toll booths a percentage is included for the tycoon consortium.

These highways were built by Grupo Carso, and the most common modality is that the work is paid with the collection of taxes for using them.

Everyone pays

Carlos Slim owns some of the largest and best-listed companies on the Mexican Stock Exchange, such as América Móvil and Grupo Carso.

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But he also has at least 180 other companies with activities as diverse as gold mining, road construction, bicycle manufacturing, auto parts, and the production of sweets and chocolates.

It is a constant presence for millions of Mexicans, in very different ways.

In the big cities of the country, for example, most pharmacies close before 10 o’clock at night.

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But one of the most common places for emergency shopping is Sanborn’s, a chain of restaurants that also offers medicines.

The group of restaurants is common in the main cities of the country. But there are other businesses that are virtually part of the lives of millions of people.

An example is Teléfonos de México, which has the largest fixed communication network in the country.

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Until 1990, when Slim bought it, Telmex was the state telephone company.

In the privatization agreement it was established that a network should be built to communicate to all the peoples and communities of the country.

Another business is Telcel, which has 75.5 million registered users according to data from the Federal Institute of Telecommunications.

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There are 122 million cell phone lines in the country that also provide internet, video and text messaging services.

The two companies are part of América Móvil, the largest telecommunications consortium in the country, which in 2018, according to corporate data, obtained net profits of 45,700 million pesos, some US $ 2,400 million.

But those who are not Slim’s clients also left him profits. Telmex and Telcel built the largest fixed and cellular communications backbone in the country.

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The tycoon’s competitors must pay an income for using that infrastructure, and for the interconnection service between lines of different companies.

With the Telecommunications Reform the rate was reduced considerably, but anyway the business is profitable for the tycoon.

According to the consultant The Competitive Intelligence Unit, interconnection revenues accounted for more than half of the revenues for the tycoon consortium.

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That is to say, in every minute of telephone calls or Internet connections, in the toll booths, when buying bread or food, Carlos Slim Helú usually appears.”