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Old 11-12-09, 12:14 AM   #1
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Post Forbes: Mexican drug lord 41 on most powerful list (AP)

AP - Forbes Magazine named drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman — a fugitive reputed to be hiding in the mountains of northern Mexico — to its list of the 67 "World's Most Powerful People" on Wednesday.

At No. 41 on the list, Guzman is ahead of presidents like Russia's Dmitry Medvedev, France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

Forbes noted Guzman's profession as "drug trafficker" on the list published Wednesday on its Web site.

"This ranking is intended to be the beginning of a conversation, not the final word," the magazine said in accompanying article. "Do despicable criminals like billionaire Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzman ... belong on this list at all?"

Last March, Mexican officials decried Forbes' decision to include Guzman on its list of the world's billionaires, saying that wrongly compared him to legitimate businessmen. At the time, Forbes' estimated Guzman's fortune at $1 billion

The office of the presidency said it had no immediate reaction to his inclusion on Wednesday's list.

Some Mexicans did not appear surprised by Forbes' decision.

"The drug traffickers have always been powerful," a reader who identified himself only as Julio commented in a discussion of the Forbes article on the Web site of the Mexico City newspaper El Universal.

Guzman reputedly heads one of Mexico's most powerful drug gangs and is considered one of Mexico's most wanted fugitives. The government has offered a reward of 30 million pesos ($2.3 million) for information leading to his capture.

As head of the Sinaloa cartel, Guzman purportedly has legions of hit-men and enforcers at his command. Violence associated with Mexico's drug war has cost more than 13,800 lives since late 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the cartels.

Calderon's administration has said the violence is a sign not of the cartels' strength, but rather of their desperation and disorganization in the face of the government crackdown.

In March, Calderon railed against honoring drug lords. Without naming Forbes, he said that "magazines are not only attacking and lying about the situation in Mexico but are also praising criminals."

Mexicans had some reason to be pleased, as well.

Another Mexican — telecom magnate Carlos Slim Helu, who Forbes listed as the world's third-richest man — was named No. 6 on the most-powerful list, just five steps behind No. 1, President Barack Obama.

Forbes said Slim Helu's fortune was "equivalent to some 2 percent of Mexico's GDP."


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