Mexican President Calls on World's Thousand Richest People to Help Poorest

Mexico's president has called on the world's wealthiest to take action to help the poorest, the Associated Press reported.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador pitched a new plan to the U.N. Security Council that could help those around the world living on less than $2 a day. He suggested that the thousand wealthiest people, most prominent private companies and the 20 major worldwide economies combine their resources to generate around $1 trillion each year. Only 4 percent of the wealthiest people's income and the most successful companies' profits would be needed to make the plan a reality, along with 0.2 percent of the GDP of successful economies.

"The spirit of cooperation is losing ground to the desire for profit, and this is leading us to slide from civilization into barbarity," López Obrador told the council. "We are moving forward, alienated, forgetting moral principles, and turning our backs on the pain of humanity."

He cited worldwide COVID-19 vaccine distribution as a significant sign that wealth is dividing the world. Companies involved in creating the vaccines sold 94 percent of their stock, but only 6 percent went to the COVAX program.

"People in the richest countries are getting third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, while only 5 percent of Africans are fully vaccinated," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. "Even before the pandemic, the world's billionaires held more wealth than 60 percent of the global population—and that gap has widened enormously."

López Obrador criticized the U.N. during the speech for allegedly ignoring poor societies around the world. However, he did say that it is not too late for those in power to begin righting wrongs.

"It is never too late to ensure that justice is done," he said. "It is time to act today against marginalization, dealing with the causes and not just the consequences."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Mexico's president has called on the world's wealthiest to take action to help the poorest. Above, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a working breakfast with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not shown) at the National Palace in Mexico City on October 8, 2021. Photo by Patrick Semansky/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

López Obrador suggested that the funds from the world's richest should go directly to the world's poorest people "without any intermediaries, through a card or personalized electronic wallet."

In a scathing speech to the U.N.'s most powerful body, the Mexican leader sharply criticized the world's nations for not addressing corruption in all its forms—political, moral, economic, legal, fiscal and financial—which he called "the main problem of the planet."

López Obrador, on only his second foreign trip since taking office in December of 2018, was presiding over the council, where Mexico is serving a two-year term and holds the presidency this month. The country chose the topic of Tuesday's meeting: "Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Exclusion, Inequality and Conflicts."

"If we are not able to reverse these trends through specific actions, we will not be able to resolve any of the other problems affecting the peoples of the world," he said.

López Obrador said in the coming days Mexico will propose to the U.N. General Assembly "a world plan for fraternity and well-being" to guarantee the right to a decent life for 750 million people.

Guterres, who addressed the council before the Mexican president spoke, said the COVID-19 pandemic "has amplified misery and inequalities," pushing around 120 million more people into poverty, with millions around the globe facing hunger and famines and the world facing "the deepest global recession since World War II."

The U.N. chief said rising inequality is a factor of rising instability.

"Today, we face the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945" and "a dangerous sense of impunity is taking hold—seen in the recent seizures of power by force, including military coups," he said.

"Human rights and the rule of law are under assault," Guterres said. "From Afghanistan, where girls are once again being denied an education—and women denied their rightful place in society. To Myanmar, where minorities are targeted, brutalized and forced to flee. To Ethiopia, where a man-made humanitarian crisis is unfolding before our eyes."

The secretary-general called for investing equally in all people's development, more rigorous monitoring of growing inequalities to address grievances early, including women in building peace, and ensuring that national institutions represent all people. "This means justice systems that apply to all people, equally—not only the rich or those holding the reins of power," he said.

López Obrador Supporters
Mexico's president has called on the world's wealthiest to take action to help the poorest. Above, supporters of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador listen as he addresses delegates on November 9, 2021, in New York. AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez