On Sunday, nearly one thousand protesters are expected to join George Washington University's (GW) students and their parents at a commencement ceremony on Washington D.C.'s National Mall to voice concerns about the honorary degree the school plans to confer on Mexican billionaire businessman Carlos Slim.
Protesters have already begun gathering in the streets around GW. Many of the demonstrators are members of "Two Countries One Voice", a coalition of activists dedicated to "exposing Carlos Slim" for amassing, "his wealth on the backs of the Mexican people and how his practices continue to corrode Mexico’s economic development," according to the coalition website.
Slim, a Mexican telecom magnate, is the world's richest person, with a personal fortune larger than those of Americans Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. He is the first person from a developing nation to top the global wealth list, according to Forbes magazine.
Slim's core company, Telmex, was once a state-owned asset. His conglomerate, Grupo Carso, purchased Telmex in 1990, according to Forbes. The purchase gave Slim control of 80 percent of Mexico's land line telephone market. A second Slim-owned company, Telcel, controls 70 percent of the country's mobile phone business.
Slim's Grupo Carso also has significant holdings in the retail, technology and finance sectors. Critics say Slim's empire has choked off competition, the jobs that smaller companies may have created and contributed to elevated unemployment in Mexico.
"People are in awe of this man and his wealth while ignoring how he's acquired it. He has crippled the Mexican economy through his business practices and has single handedly kept millions in poverty, all while lining his own pockets," said Andres Ramirez, a Two Countries spokesperson according to Market Watch.
Protesters are calling on this year's GW commencement speaker, NBC's correspondent Brian Williams, to publicly oppose GW's plans to honor Slim.
"We want to make sure that GW knows that this guy's not a humanitarian, not a philanthropist, he's a corporate monopolist whose taken advantage of people in Latin America," said one of the protesters according to the video above.
In June of 2009, Slim received the President's Medal from GW in recognition of his philanthropic work in Mexico and the region, according to the university's website.
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