His household laundry is hung in the backyard. His water supply is drawn from a yard well. And his security system consists of two police officers and his three-legged dog Manuela. He drives a 1987 Volkswagen Beetle. He is not your ordinary politician. Meet Jose Mujica, the president of Uruguay — the “World’s Poorest President.”
Unlike all the rest or most of the world’s leaders, President Mujica has rejected the posh lifestyle that the Uruguayan state affords its politicians and chose to live at his wife’s farmhouse located off a beaten path in Montevideo. Here, the couple tend to the land themselves and grow flowers. Explaining that he can live with what he has, Mujica gives away 90% of his monthly salary (about $12,000) to the poor and small entrepreneurs.
“I’m called ‘the poorest president’, but I don’t feel poor. Poor people are those who only work to try to keep an expensive lifestyle, and always want more and more,” he says. “This is a matter of freedom. If you don’t have many possessions then you don’t need to work all your life like a slave to sustain them, and therefore you have more time for yourself. I may appear to be an eccentric old man… But this is a free choice.”
The Uruguayan leader aims to alleviate his nation’s poverty through sustainable development — not by imitating the development and consumption of the affluent countries, but by avoiding the “hyper-consumption that is harming our planet.”
Although his popularity rating has fallen by 50% recently, he does not worry about it because the Uruguayan law does not allow re-elections. And he plans to retire from politics after his term. No power-grabbing schemes, no popularity runs, no ego-driven projects.
What if all the politicians in the world lived like Jose Mujica? Would this world be a better place? Tell us what you think of the humble lifestyle of Uruguay’s president!