NPR Story
2:41 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Forbes Magazine Takes El Chapo Off The World's Most Influential List

After four years, Forbes Magazine removed Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán from its list of the world's most powerful men.

About time, too. The magazine's methodology for placing him there was always doubtful. The magazine first placed Chapo's grinning mug in its pages in May 2009. Granted, they had him way down the list at No. 701, vying for the position against the granddaughter of the Campbell Soup inventor. They first noted his occupation as "Shipping."

But he moved up in recent years, up to No. 63 on the list last December.

The decision to place him on the list always struck me as gimmicky.

There was Chapo, two places ahead of U.S House Speaker John Boehner, under the sweeping subheadline: "Power Players: There are 7.1 billion people on the planet. These are the 71 who matter."

In 2009, Forbes stated Chapo's net worth at an even $1 billion. This too, was suspect. How would Forbes know how much one arm of the Sinaloa Cartel was actually worth? What's the Sinaloa Cartel worth? What's Chapo's take of that value? What's Ismael El Mayo Zambada's take? How much in drug proceeds enter the U.S.? Of that, how much is controlled by the Sinaloans?

None of those questions were ever answered. In a memorable email, a Forbes editor simply told me the methodology for coming up with the number was "proprietary."

Sure it was.

I was always annoyed to see Forbes' context-free appraisal enter into other reporters' summaries describing Chapo's power. The gimmick, it seemed, worked. With absolutely no facts, no hard data and no figures, news accounts describing Chapo began to surface in the media with variances of, "named one of the world's richest men by Forbes Magazine."

By 2012, the dollar amount had gone away completely and the monicker changed from world's "billionaires" to the far more subjective, "world's most powerful."

And now it's gone completely. It makes me wonder: there was a basis, however vague, for including Chapo on the "top dog" list. What was Forbes basis for removing him from it? That emailed question hasn't yet been answered.

And frankly, I don't expect it will.

For more Fronteras Desk news, visit fronterasdesk.org.


Copyright 2013 FRNTRS. To see more, visit http://www.fronterasdesk.org/.