SIXTH COLUMN

"History is philosophy teaching by example." (Lord Bolingbroke)

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Fidel Castro Worth $900 Million: Forbes


Fidelito has done for himself going from the commander of a rag-tag army in the late 1950s to the monetary status of almost a billionaire while his compadres on the Island stand in line for bare necessities. Oh, I get it: he saves on clothes, only dressing in fatigues...

Cuban President Fidel Castro was furious when Forbes magazine estimated his fortune at $550 million last year. This year, the magazine upped its estimate of the communist leader's wealth to a cool $900 million.

Castro, who says his net worth is nil, is likely the beneficiary of up to $900 million, based on his control of state-owned companies, the U.S. financial magazine said in its annual tally of "Kings, Queens & Dictators" fortunes on Thursday...
Castro had said he was considering suing after Forbes released its 2005 list, scoffing then his wealth was estimated to be close to that of the queen of England.

"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 last year, referring to his capitalist archenemy, Washington.
This year, Castro would be well above the British monarch. Queen Elizabeth came in with some $500 million in estates, gems and a stamp collection built by her grandfather. The list does not include Buckingham Palace or the crown jewels.


Who is he trying to imress? Aren't Communists supposed to eschew the attainment of personal wealth?

How does he stack up against other leaders and royals?

Kings and sheikhs of the oil-rich Gulf Arab states still top the Forbes list, to be published in its May 22 edition.
Saudi King Abdullah is number one with an estimated $21 billion, followed by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei at $20 billion and United Arab Emirates' President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan at $19 billion.

Among Europeans, Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein improved upon his family fortune of palaces, real estate and artwork with an investment in a U.S. producer of hybrid rice, for total estimated riches of $4 billion.

Perhaps the most industrious of the leaders listed is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, with a net worth of $14 billion.

Forbes estimates the renowned racehorse breeder also helped raise Dubai's gross domestic product from about $8 billion to nearly $40 billion since 1994 by diversifying its industries outside of oil and making successful investments overseas.
"He would probably be the shrewdest of the bunch," said Luisa Kroll, associate editor at Forbes.

Africa's Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, president of Equatorial Guinea, made the list of wealthiest leaders for the first time. He is estimated to hold up to $600 million, the magazine said, although an oil boom has not prevented his country's slide down the United Nations' development rankings.

A copy of the list, compiled by Forbes editors and not confirmed by the royals themselves, was released on Thursday.
"People are always intrigued. What is the ultimate fantasy but being a rich princess or prince?" said Kroll, who edits the magazine's annual list of global billionaires.

"We keep it separate from the billionaires because there are some very tricky things about these folks," Kroll said. "It's very hard to separate state from personal wealth. Some of these fortunes literally go back 800 years."


Castro's wealth, prestige, and cachet doesn't go back quite far enough to rank being a prince. But of course, he's a prince in his own mind. The rest of know he's only another Communist thug who beat millions out of those to whom he promised a workers' paradise. I wonder if Chavez and Morales are planning to follow in his footsteps...

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