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Who is the Wealthiest President in Latin America?

The presidents of the Dominican Republic and Ecuador are the region’s leaders with the highest net worth, while Uruguay’s president has by far the highest salary

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou and Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro
June 24, 2022 | 03:55 pm

Bloomberg Línea — Latin America’s presidents hail from a variety of backgrounds, from ex-businessmen to former student activists, ‘outsiders’ and long-standing ‘old guard’ politicians, and whose varied careers prior to becoming heads of state are reflected in the discrepancies in wealth they have accumulated and declared as part of the protocol before their investitures.

Among the list of presidents with the largest declared wealth is the Dominican Republic’s Luis Abinader, who was the executive president of ABICOR Group and whose wealth exceeds $70 million. Next is Ecuador’s Guillermo Lasso, a former banker, with a net worth of close to $40 million at the beginning of a term that has been marked by protests in recent days.

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However, both presidents donate their salaries to charity.

In contrast, the net worth of other heads of state do not exceed $50,000 in total assets, as is the case of Peru’s Pedro Castillo, who was a rural school teacher before winning the election, or Gabriel Boric, the Chilean president who is a former student leader.

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Bloomberg Línea has put together a list of the net worth of the region’s leaders, using the most recent sworn declarations available for each, along with their gross monthly salaries.

Likewise, there are presidents who, due to their country’s internal policies or their own decisions, simply do not make public information regarding their assets, as is the case in Panama, Venezuela, Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala.

Lack of transparency

In the case of Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo, the Comptroller General of the Republic recorded that in 2019, in compliance with the law, he delivered his duly notarized sworn statement of assets, along with other members of his cabinet, but such documents are not made public.

Neither was it possible to verify the wealth of the president of Honduras, Xiomara Castro, since she did not submit an income statement during her presidential campaign and, in November 2021, her husband and former president, Manuel Zelaya, argued that he submitted a joint statement representing the assets of both of them.

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In addition, independent portal Dato Público, which was launched during the campaign and sought to collect such data, records that “the candidate [Castro] did not provide information, and which is therefore not available”.

The net worth of Costa Rica’s President Rodrigo Chávez has also been impossible to verify, since the information regarding the country’s high-ranking officials is not made public.

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Finally, there is the case of the president of Guatemala, Alejandro Eduardo Giammattei, whose total patrimony could not be established, since such information is retained from the public through article 21 of the country’s Probity Law, which prevents access to the patrimonial declarations of public officials and employees.

And in Venezuela, the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic, the entity in charge of processing the sworn declarations of assets of officials and employees of the state, does not make such documents public, according to Transparencia Venezuela, an organization dedicated to public administration investigations.

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*The conversion of assets and gross salaries from local currencies to U.S. dollars was made with the exchange rates of June 21, 2022.

Translated from the Spanish by Adam Critchley