Castro angry over Forbes listing
Friday, March 18, 2005 Posted: 12:24 AM EST (0524 GMT)
HAVANA, Cuba (Reuters) -- Cuban President Fidel Castro has criticized Forbes magazine for the "infamy" of listing him among the world's richest people, with a net worth of $550 million.
"Once again, they have committed the infamy of speaking about Castro's fortune, placing me almost above the queen of England," Castro said in a speech to top officials of Cuba's ruling Communist Party, military and police.
"Do they think I am (former Zairian President) Mobutu (Sese Seko) or one of the many millionaires, those thieves and plunderers, that the empire has suckled and protected?" he said in reference to his capitalist archenemy, the United States.
"What they should be doing is looking for the money of all those people," he said.
Castro, 78, and in power since a 1959 revolution, said he was considering suing. It was the second straight year Castro has appeared on the Forbes list. Last year, the magazine put his worth at $150 million.
On Tuesday Forbes published a story on the fortunes of the world's richest rulers and heads of state, including Castro, Britain's Queen Elizabeth and the Sultan of Brunei, saying none were "exemplars of capitalism" and did not qualify for the world billionaires list.
The weekly financial magazine said that "valuing these treasures can get tricky."
"In the past, we have relied on a percentage of Cuba's gross domestic product to estimate Fidel Castro's fortune," Forbes explained.
"This year, we have used more traditional valuation methods, comparing state-owned assets Castro is assumed to control with comparable publicly traded companies," it said.
The magazine said Castro derived his fortune from a web of state-owned companies that include retail conglomerate CIMEX, pharmaceutical company Medicuba and a convention center near Havana.
The Cuban government, in a press statement issued by its embassy in Mexico, called the story a "clumsy slander and a repugnant example of the campaign of lies" orchestrated against Cuba in the United States.
It called Forbes "an American magazine of decaying credibility."
"The revenues of Cuban state-run companies are used exclusively for the benefit of the people, to whom they belong," the statement said.
The statement went on to say that Cuba is the only Latin American country that fights inequality and has the fairest income distribution in the world.