Monday, November 7, 2011

Chapo on Forbes' list

Once again, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has been named to Forbes' list of most powerful people in the world, occupying the no. 55 spot for no apparent reason.

Well, Forbes gives reasons, ie, a methodology of sorts. Forbes measured "how many people a person has power over." It looked at the person's "financial resources," then asked whether "a candidate [is] influential in more than one arena, or sphere." Lastly, Forbes "gave consideration to how actively the candidates wield their power."

Patrick Corcoran has some good thoughts on the matter here:

My thoughts, as someone who has researched Chapo for a fair amount of time now:

One thing to take into account on power lists is the fear factor. For instance, mention the name of President Felipe Calderon in Sinaloa, and you will most likely elicit a chuckle. I like Calderon, and I respect him, but that doesn't change the fact that in places like Sinaloa, people regard him as a pendejo.
Mention Chapo's name, on the other hand, and you get fear, awe, trembles, respect. That's power.

And what about his power as a brand? In 2007, Chapo was being written off by everyone in Mexico. Now, his name is as well-known as Pablo Escobar's. When one thinks of the global drug trade, one thinks of Chapo. Some idiot rapper even named his album after him.

I think another criteria for power should be likely effect of death or departure. For instance, if President Barack Obama resigned tomorrow for no apparent reason, the world would be in shock. There would be ripple-effects all over the place. Everyone would be wondering what happened, why, buzzing about what might happen next.

If Chapo were to retire tomorrow, or die, or be captured, what would happen? It's all speculation, but there would likely to be serious violence throughout Sinaloa, perhaps throughout Mexico. I still believe there are contingency plans in place for retaliation against the authorities if they nail him. (Disclaimer: this is based on no evidence whatsoever, just a hunch.)

Lastly, what about connections to power? A senior Mexican general was allegedly sent by a high-ranking administration official to talk to Chapo to ask him to contain the levels of violence in Sinaloa. When a member of the army – undoubtedly the most powerful entity in the country, at least officially – is sent to talk to you, to effectively ask for your assistance, that is power indeed.

Long story short, I think Chapo should be included on Forbes' list. But I think they should have included a little more info on why he belongs there, given how murky details on his financial resources etc really are.


  1. what about the "Denny's factor?" The fact is, as an infamous outlaw, there are some simple actions that Chapo has lost the power to do. You or I or can go out to a Denny's anytime we want, Chapo can't.

  2. Hi Malcolm, can you comment on the recent arrest of Ovidio Limón Sánchez of the Sinaloa kartel??

  3. Loved your book on Chapo. I think he should be on Forbes list to show the world that drugs are assisting economic development. Maybe some will consider to stop their drug habit. Do you think if Mexico and US legalized certain illegal drugs it would help end the violence in Mexico?

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