Former President of Uruguay Jose Mujica was once considered the poorest, most humble leader in the world. Mujica took office in March 2010, but never moved into Uruguay’s presidential palace. Instead, he lived on a farm that he shared with his wife and several animals, and his official car was a 1987 Volkswagen Beetle. He donated 90% of his monthly salary to charity.
Though Mujca is no longer president, he created his own legacy within the political landscape – one that suggests presidents are not kings, but lowly civil servants, and should behave as such. It is commonplace to see some presidents of countries living lavish lifestyles, and in some extreme cases, looting their countries’ finances for personal gain. But not Mujica. He is commonly known as the world’s “poorest” president because of his austere lifestyle.
For some time now, I have longed to see an example of someone in a position of monetary privilege who doesn’t live a lifestyle to match. Show me a multi-million dollar lottery winner who continues to live in a modest house, or an uber-wealthy businessperson who lives a middle-class lifestyle, I thought. The best example I could come up with was billionaire Warren Buffet, who still lives in a house he bought in the 1950s for $31,500. But then I found out he also owns a multimillion dollar home in Laguna Beach, and owned another there that he has since sold. Not exactly what I had in mind. But apparently, I’ve been in the dark for a few years now. I just learned that a bonafide example of someone who exemplifies what I’ve been seeking – Uruguay’s president, José Mujica – was elected in a landslide victory in the 2009 election, taking office in 2010. Read more