Aug 6 A coalition of immigrant rights' groups,
the Occupy Wall Street movement and New York politicians said on
Monday they would stage a four-day protest against Carlos Slim,
the world's richest man, outside Saks' swanky Fifth Avenue
flagship store in Manhattan beginning on Tuesday.
The coalition, which calls itself 'Two Countries One Voice',
is protesting business practices by Slim, who owns a stake in
Saks Inc as well as cell phone and landline companies
that dominate market share in his native Mexico.
"Carlos Slim is the (richest) 1 percent of the 1 percent,"
said Occupy Wall Street representative George Martinez, speaking
at a press conference in New York City to launch the protest.
"This week you will see direct action ... to stop global
'Two Countries One Voice' is a loose coalition of about 50
organizations, according to leaders Andres Ramirez, a public
relations executive in Las Vegas, and Los Angeles-based lawyer
Juan Jose Gutierrez.
The coalition, funded by the groups within it, was formed
earlier this year to protest the high phone rates Mexicans face
when calling family in the United States.
Mexicans were overcharged $13.4 billion a year from 2005 to
2009 for phone and Internet services, according to a January
report published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD), which was funded by the Mexican
Mexican home phone service is dominated by Slim's Telefonos
de Mexico, or Telmex,, which provides about 80
percent of services. Slim controls about 70 percent of the
cellphone market through America Movil .
Slim's business model "has led to price gouging and charges
many of my constituents high prices," New York State Senator
Adriano Espaillat said at the press conference.
New York State Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez said that he
hoped the protest would raise awareness of the need for changes
to Mexico's regulatory system.
Slim, whose fortune has been estimated at around $69 billion
by Forbes magazine, has increasingly come under fire in Mexico
for the high fees charged by his companies, but regulators have
had limited success in diluting his dominance.
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN MAY
Slim's spokespeople downplayed the planned protest outside
Saks and said that 'Two Countries One Voice' was a paid
The coalition protested against Slim at George Washington
University in May when he gave the commencement address. Arturo
Elias Ayub, Slim's son-in-law and a spokesman for his companies,
said in a telephone interview on Friday that the protest had
been made up of people who were paid $20 or $30 to turn up.
Ayub said that not a single Hispanic had taken part in the
protest at the university, and that when he and colleagues
questioned the protestors, they said they did not know why they
Two Countries' Ramirez said the group had helped with
transportation and lunch costs for people who had traveled a
long distance, but he said no one had been paid just to protest.