Brazil’s Lula World’s 33rd Most Powerful Ahead of Japan and France Leaders

Smiling Brazilian president Lula Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ranks 33 in the list of world's 67 most powerful people published by the American finance magazine Forbes. Lula loses to US president Barack Obama, number 1 in the list or numbers 2 and 3, Chinese president  Hu Jintao and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

But he comes ahead of Japan prime minister Yukio Hatoyama (35), terrorist Osama Bin Laden (37), French president Nicolas Sarkozy (56) and his Venezuelan colleague Hugo Chavez (67).

The world's most powerful include politicians, businessmen, religious leaders, media owners and one drug trafficker who really run the world, to believe Forbes.

The Forbes list also includes communications moguls Mexican Carlos Slim and Australian-American Rupert Murdoch, who hold respectively the 6th and the 7th positions. Pope Benedict 16 is number 11, and former American president Bill Clinton comes in 31 first place.

The Brazilian president was also considered more powerful than American TV presenter Oprah Winfrey, who ended up in 45th place.

Forbes describes Lula as the man ruling the country that leads exports of several food staples with agricultural foreign sales totaling  close to US$ 60 billion in 2008.

Lula on Forbes own words: "Lula runs world's pantry, top exporter of sugar, orange juice, coffee, beef, poultry – exported $58 billion in farm products last year alone. Pet projects: tapping into vast oil fields off Brazilian coast, making country No. 1 in projected $125 billion carbon market.

"No pushover: "It offends me to see fingers pointed at clean energy from biofuels, fingers dirty with oil and coal." At G-20, blamed financial crisis on the "white and blue-eyed"; slapped 2% tax on foreign investment to stop surging Brazilian real, up more than 30% against dollar this year. Foreign investors unlikely to back off, though. Natural resources and infrastructure just too yummy to pass up."

Mexican Tycoon and Drug-Lord

Mexico made it to the Forbes list of the 67 most powerful in the world with two names: one of them a legitimate businessman linked to telecommunication with an international reputation, the other a notorious drug lord with a reward on his head.

The listing has sparked controversy in Mexico with government officials arguing it's not proper to compare legitimate hard working, law abiding citizens with criminals involved in the illegal drugs business.

The Mexican tycoon is Carlos Slim Helu, described by Forbes as the third richest man in the world and sixth in the list of the most powerful, figures only five steps behind the most powerful of all, United States President Barack Obama.

Forbes estimates Mr. Slim's fortune is equivalent to 2% of Mexico's GDP. Among other things he has a stake in The New York Times, helping the prestigious daily from going down a couple of years ago.

The drug-lord is Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán who figures in position 41 (out of 67) ahead of the presidents from Russia Dimitri Medvedev, France's Nicholas Sarkozy and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez among others.

Guzmán who allegedly is hiding in the mountains of northern Mexico is identified as "drug dealer" by Forbes.

However Forbes also points out that "this list pretends to be the beginning of a debate, and it's not the final word", adding the question "if despicable criminals such as the Mexican millionaire drug-lord Joaquin Guzmán should be included in the list?"

Forbes estimates El Chapo fortune in over a billion dollars.

However many Mexicans are not surprised with the listing according to reactions recorded in the local media.

Guzman is reputed as the leader of one of the most powerful drug cartels in Mexico and heads the most wanted list with a reward price of three million US dollars from the Mexican government.

As head of the Sinaloa cartel Guzman allegedly has hundreds of paid assassins at his service. Drug related violence in Mexico has cost the country 13.800 lives in the last three years, particularly since President Felice Calderón launched a massive offensive against the drug lords with, for the first time support from the Armed Forces.

The Calderón administration has insisted that the ongoing violence and killings are signals that the cartels are becoming desperate and disorganized because of the offensive.

But Calderón has also criticized local folklore for making the drug lords popular heroes in music and cartoons. And recriminations have reached foreign publications: "some magazines not only are incorrectly informing about Mexico, they are also praising criminals".

Forbes Top 10

1. Barack Obama, President, U.S.
2. Hu Jintao, President, China
3. Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister, Russia
4. Ben Bernanke, Chairman, US Federal Reserve
5. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Founders, Google
6. Carlos Slim Helu, Chief Executive, Telmex, Mexico
7. Rupert Murdoch, Chairman, News Corp.
8. Michael Drake, Chief Executive, Wal-Mart Stores
9. Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, King, Saudi Arabia
10. Bill Gates, Co-chairman, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bzz/MP

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