The second richest man in Mexico has called to “not be afraid” of the disease and has repeatedly challenged the government’s sanitary measures
The businessman Ricardo Salinas Pliego, leader of Grupo Salinas and close to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, confirmed this Wednesday on his Twitter account that he has tested positive for coronavirus. “To take care of yourself and not be afraid, as I always said … you have to give us all and we will be fine,” he wrote on the social network. On several occasions, the second-richest man in Mexico has defied the government’s health guidelines and forced his employees to go to workplaces, even at the peak of the pandemic
Since the confinement began due to the pandemic, Salinas Pliego has strongly opposed the closure of businesses and isolation due to covid-19, to the point of cheering the disobedience of the rules imposed during the health emergency. “Let us live in peace! Stop sowing panic and fear with your massive advertising campaigns “, said the tycoon from his blog staff last June and asked the Board of Health to let people be free to return to everyday life. “We had to live a pandemic that is not fatal, what is fatal is to stop living so as not to die (…) We are millions of people who want to continue with our activities, freely choosing what is convenient for us and accepting the natural risk of living in an uncertain environment (…) Do not accept the authoritarian imposition that goes against your convictions ”, stated the businessman.
During the first months of confinement, Grupo Salinas urged its employees to continue reporting for work even when many of the emporium’s businesses were not considered essential activities. “Today, more than ever, Mexico needs us,” said the statement that began to circulate among the more than 70,000 workers of the business conglomerate. The lack of sensitivity of the employer with his workers was exposed in the first person when a former employee of the Salinas Foundation denounced last July through social networks having been fired in the middle of the pandemic. The businessman replied from his personal account: “I am disappointed to know that you are an ungrateful person with whom you occupied for 18 years. If you had known … your departure was earlier ”.
From the group’s television, TV Azteca, the second most-watched in the country and consumed by the most popular strata of society, the message was launched to ignore official information about covid-19. “Don’t listen to López Gatell anymore. Their figures became irrelevant ”, the presenter of the Azteca Noticias evening news program said about the government’s reports on the pandemic.
Despite the confinement and the pandemic, the businessman has benefited from several contracts with the López Obrador government and increasing his assets to close to $ 11.7 billion, ranking as the second most powerful fortune in Mexico, according to Forbes.
“Employers do not have to pay workers’ pensions”
The controversial businessman was harshly criticized on Tuesday after posting an article related to workers’ pensions on his blog that caused great controversy. In the letter, Salinas Pliego stated that workers are the only ones who must save for their pensions, a thesis disputed by economists in a country marked by income inequality and low pensions.
“In reality, the employer has no incentive to guarantee [the worker] a decent pension, especially in this world with enormous labor mobility. For the employer, any contribution to the worker’s pension is just one more tax, ”says Salinas Pliego, who compares the fee for each worker as“ a dissuasive effect ”for job creators. The businessman expresses in his text that paying to have someone contributing to the Mexican Social Security Insurance (IMSS) discourages entrepreneurs just as the “taxes on tobacco, alcohol and highly caloric foods” do.
“Those who propose that the State take over the pensions are ignorant of the economic reality” and insist that each worker save 20% of their salary to channel those resources to long-term investment projects. “Who should sacrifice personal and family consumption in order to enjoy their savings in the future? The pensioner. He and only he has the obligation to save to aspire to a decent future, ”says Salinas Pliego.
“Retirement contributions must be distributed between the State, the company and the worker, as in the current scheme”, says Alejandra Macías, Research Director of the Center for Economic and Budgetary Research (CIEP). “Having a pension or Social Security it is a right and as such the State has to guarantee it as the right to health and education, despite the situation of inequality that we live in Mexico and the lack of resources that mean that it does not reach the entire population ”, Macias points out.
Mexico is one of the countries with the lowest replacement rate, around 30%, which translates into a very low pension at the time of retirement, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the National Commission of the Retirement Savings System (CONSAR). The new pension reform that the López Obrador Government wants to carry out seeks to expand the coverage and the amount for the beneficiaries, which means that the employer contribution will increase in the next ten years from 5.15% to 13, 87%.