The two earthquakes that shattered Mexico on September 7 and 19, 2017, did an estimated $2 to 4 billion in damage and killed more than 400 people. Hundreds of buildings were damaged or collapsed outright, particularly in booming Mexico City, and recovery efforts have been steady but slow, hampered by massive infrastructure damage.
Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire who was the world’s richest man from 2010 to 2013, intends to donate over $110 million from his foundation to the recovery effort. Accompanied by $20 million in outside donations, it will be the single largest contribution to the effort.
In a press conference on Tuesday, October 10 in Mexico City, Slim announced that the foundation’s priorities would be schools, hospitals, and at-risk historic buildings.
“I think it will be a very good factor, a big factor of employment in all of the affected zones,” Slim stated to the press.
It is a generous gift, but hopefully only the tip of Slim’s generosity. The business magnate, king of multiple industries, is worth nearly $70 billion, enough to fund the entire rebuilding process himself without a blink. His net worth is more than 1/20 of Mexico’s gross domestic wealth. The entirety of his very large donation is still less than the average daily increase to his holdings.
He looks to benefit from his own donation, as well. Part of the reconstruction will be carried out by Mexico’s Real-Estate Development Association, an umbrella organization that includes Slim’s banking and financial services company, IDEAL.
The donation is still laudable, but it’s important to put it in the context of Slim’s status in Mexico. The average Mexican citizen earns less than $14,000 a year, and spends at least $600 of that on goods or services from businesses that Slim owns. He has monopolies or near-monopolies in many industries, most notably telecommunications. He owes his country a great deal. A great deal more than a single day’s wage.