The Richest of the Rich in El Salvador Book: A Controversial ExposÃ of the Country's Oligarchy
El Salvador is a small Central American country with a population of about 6.5 million people. It is also a country with a history of violence, poverty, and inequality. According to the World Bank, El Salvador has one of the highest levels of income inequality in Latin America, with a Gini coefficient of 0.38 in 2019.
But who are the people at the top of the economic pyramid in El Salvador? Who are the families that control the political and economic power in this nation? And how did they accumulate their wealth and influence?
These are some of the questions that Maria Dolores Albiac, a Spanish journalist and longtime resident of El Salvador, tried to answer in her book \"The Richest of the Rich in El Salvador\" (Los ricos mÃs ricos de El Salvador), published in 1998 by Heinrich BÃll Foundation. The book caused a stir in the Salvadoran society, as it revealed the names and fortunes of more than 100 families that belong to the country's oligarchy.
Albiac based her research on public records, interviews, and journalistic sources. She divided the families into four groups: the old coffee aristocracy, the immigrant entrepreneurs, the industrialists and bankers, and the new rich. She also traced their origins, their businesses, their political affiliations, and their role in the country's history.
Some of the most prominent names in Albiac's book are:
The Regalado, Duenas, Sol, and Guirola families, who made their fortune from coffee plantations and exports. The Sol family is related to Armando Calderon Sol, who was president of El Salvador from 1994 to 1999.
The Cristiani and Murray families, who are of Italian and Irish descent respectively. They are involved in various sectors such as agriculture, banking, insurance, media, and telecommunications. Alfredo Cristiani was president of El Salvador from 1989 to 1994 and Roberto Murray was a presidential candidate for Arena (Nationalist Republican Alliance), a right-wing political party, in 1999.
The Meza and Ayau families, who are co-owners of La Constancia brewery, one of the largest companies in El Salvador. They also have interests in other industries such as cement, sugar, and energy.
The Siman family, who own Siman department stores, one of the most successful retail chains in Central America. They also have investments in real estate, hotels, and malls.
Albiac argued that these families have not only amassed enormous wealth but also wielded significant political power in El Salvador. She claimed that they have influenced the country's policies and institutions to protect their interests and privileges. She also blamed them for contributing to the social and economic inequalities that sparked the civil war that lasted from 1980 to 1992.
Albiac's book was met with mixed reactions from the public and the media. Some praised her for shedding light on a taboo topic and exposing the realities of El Salvador's oligarchy. Others criticized her for being biased, sensationalist, or inaccurate. Some even accused her of trying to interfere with the presidential elections that were held in 1999.
Despite the controversy, Albiac's book remains one of the few sources that offer a comprehensive and detailed account of El Salvador's richest families. It is a valuable contribution to understanding the country's history, politics, and economy. It is also a challenge to question the status quo and demand more transparency and accountability from those who hold power in El Salvador. 29c81ba772