Fidel rebukes Forbes 'infamy' on his fortune

Campaign News | Friday, 18 March 2005

Cuban leader hints he might sue for libel

HAVANA, March 17 - Cuban President Fidel Castro has criticized Forbes magazine for the "infamy" of listing him among the world's richest people, with an alleged net worth of $550 million and has hinted that he might sue for libel.

"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 Mobutu 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.

Fidel, said he was considering suing. It was the second year Fidel was on the Forbes list. Last year, the magazine put his worth at $150 million.

Forbes earlier this week published a story on the fortunes of rulers and heads of state, which included Fidel, The Queen 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 the estimates were "more art than science."

"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 Fidel derived his fortune from a web of state-owned companies that included retail and pharmaceutical businesses and a convention center.

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.

Cuba is the only Latin American country that fights inequality and has the fairest income distribution in the world, the statement said.

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