Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Cost of Mubarak's Greed

Where do dictators do their banking? The answer is Switzerland.

GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- The Swiss foreign ministry says it has located bank accounts worth millions of dollars associated with ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Mubarak stepped down Feb. 11 amid enormous public demonstrations calling for an end to his 31 years of autocratic rule. The interim military government then made a call among Arabic countries to freeze his assets, The New York Times said.

Switzerland was not formally asked to identify or freeze any holdings, but did so on its own, the newspaper said.

Mubarak and his family are estimated to have a $40 billion to $70 billion net worth. Under Egypt law foreign businesses are required to give a 51 percent stake to an Egypt citizen. Often that is Mubarak or one of his cronies. Mubarak got rich while many of his people lived in poverty. Tas has been in Egypt and describes how poverty is spreding in the country.

Similarly, if you go around the outskirts of Cairo, poor neighborhoods are spouting up -- very similar to shantytowns. Jobs in Egypt are in its cities, and the major city is Cairo. But even when you goto Alexandria, there is the rich tourist area near the Mediterranean coast, and the demographics of the neighborhoods get progressively -- and drastically -- poorer the farther away from the shore you travel. I've seen the neighborhood of Sayid Darwish's first house -- tourism dollars do not hit that part of Alexandria. Which, by the way, is only a couple miles away from the Sheraton.

To quote James Carville, "It's about the economy, stupid." People want to work and earn a decent living, whether it is the United States and Egypt. People can only take living in subhuman conditions for so long.

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