Business Politics in Latin America

Investigating Structures, Preferences, and Influence 1

Authored by: Sebastian Karcher , Ben Ross Schneider

Routledge Handbook of Latin American Politics

Print publication date:  March  2012
Online publication date:  March  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415875226
eBook ISBN: 9780203860267
Adobe ISBN: 9781135280307


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At a dinner party in 1994 with 30 of Mexico’s wealthiest businessmen, outgoing President Carlos Salinas asked each of them to contribute $25 million to electing his handpicked successor. Some attendees were shocked, others thought the sum too low, considering how much money they had made during Salinas’ tenure, but they collectively committed hundreds of millions of dollars. 2 Almost two decades later, many of these diners were still enjoying and extending favorable regulations. A monopoly on fixed line telephony for Telmex, for example, helped its owner Carlos Slim expand abroad and rise to the top of the Forbes list of the world’s richest people. In television, Televisa sought to shore up its privileged position in media markets. In 2006 Congress passed, with little debate, what became known as the Televisa law, restricting entry by potential competitors. 3 Although the sums and protections may be less egregious, similar stories are commonplace throughout Latin America. Business invests heavily in politics and merits a commensurate research eff ort to understand the impacts of that investment.

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