As the richest man in the world, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú has his hand in many honeypots including the phone company Telmex, the New York Times, and apparently Saks Fifth Avenue. Itself an icon of Manhattan luxury, protesters have picked the department store for a four-day rally beginning this afternoon: What's left of Occupy Wall Street plans to join forces with Yo Soy 132, the similarly amorphous Mexican student group, under the umbrella of what they're calling "Two Countries, One Voice," for a demonstration against Slim's "monopolistic practices" at his telecommunications companies. "Carlos Slim is the 1 percent of the 1 percent," said one Occupy organizer. But the would-be villain himself won't be there, and doesn't seem to be sweating it.
As of now, the Facebook group for the event boasts just about 250 RSVPs (and another 175 "maybes"). "Slim is the world's richest man, the largest stakeholder in Saks Fifth Avenue, and has been accused of overcharging impoverished Mexicans by over $129 billion as owner of Mexico's largest phone company," the group stresses. "What better way to protest predatory greed by taking over his Fifth Avenue store?"
By attaching its name to the international cause, Occupy Wall Street is again exercising what's left of its cachet on disparate causes. With domestic elections coming up, the once-strong movement has not demonstrated much of a resurgence at all and has shown a sustained disinterest in traditional political channels. The last time Occupy came out strong, on May Day, the group relied on a coalition of immigrant and labor groups that gave them strength in numbers, but spread the message thin. This latest action seems to indicate a similar tack, for better or worse.
From their golden perches, Slim's team is snide in their dismissal, questioning whether the protesters are even real, Reuters reports:
Slim's spokespeople downplayed the planned protest outside Saks and said that 'Two Countries One Voice' was a paid movement.
The coalition protested against Slim at George Washington University in May when he gave the commencement address. Arturo Elias Ayub, Slim's son-in-law and a spokesman for his companies, said in a telephone interview on Friday that the protest had been made up of people who were paid $20 or $30 to turn up.
Today, perfume samples will probably have to do.