Jose Mujica of Uruguay: The World’s Most Humble President

Jose Mujica, often called “the world’s most humble President,” was the President of Uruguay from 1 March 2010 to 1 March 2015. After he stepped down from office, journalist Evan Bartlett wrote an article titled “8 reasons why we’ll miss Jose Mujica, Uruguay’s maverick president” for The Independent (UK). For example, President Mujica donated 90 per cent of his salary to charity. This brought his income down to that of the average income in Uruguay. President Mujica said, “I have a way of life that I don’t change just because I am a President. I earn more than I need, even if it’s not enough for others. For me, it is no sacrifice, it’s a duty.” Even as President, he lived on a farm, saying, “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.” Even as President, he drove a 1987 blue VW Beetle. He and his wife even gave a hitchhiker, Gerhald Acosta, a ride to Mr. Acosta’s place of work. President Mujica also legalized marijuana because “150,000 people smoke [marijuana] here and I couldn’t leave them at the mercy of drugs traffickers. It’s easier to control something if it’s legal and that’s why we’ve done this.” During President Mujica’s time in office, Uruguay had a good economy with both a historically low unemployment rate and rising incomes. Supposedly, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, but President Mujica said, “As soon as politicians start climbing up the ladder, they suddenly become Kings. I don’t know how it works, but what I do know is that republics came to the world to make sure that no one is more than anyone else.” Finally, he fought in the Resistance against the country’s former military dictatorship, and he was shot six times and spent 14 years in jail. He said, “I’ve no doubt that had I not lived through that I would not be who I am today. Prison, solitary confinement had a huge influence on me. I had to find an inner strength. I couldn’t even read a book for seven, eight years — imagine that!”

For Further Information:

Evan Bartlett, “8 reasons why we’ll miss Jose Mujica, Uruguay’s maverick president.” i100. Independent (UK). March 2015

“Uruguay’s cannabis-friendly president Jose Mujica hands over power to new leader.” Independent (UK). 2 March 2015

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