They Call Him “The World’s Poorest President”

ImageThere are many trending stories on Facebook that I click on just because their titles seem interesting. When I read “Jose Mujica: The World’s Poorest President”, I just could not move my cursor away. I clicked and I clicked away at many more articles to know his story.

Sometimes labeled as the 70’s Robin Hood of Uruguay, President Mujica makes it a point to give away 90% ($12000) of his monthly salary to charity. Yeah, I know, right?

President Mujica denies the world’s claim of being the poorest president in the world. He thinks that the poor are those who keep wanting more every day. So he chooses to live an austere life, where he matches his ordinary shirt with a pair of much-worn sandals and lives in his wife’s farmhouse guarded by two police men and his trusted three-legged dog, Manuela.

Uruguay has seemed to attract the western world’s attention with its legalization of same-sex marriages and cannabis. It has earned its well deserved title as the most socially liberal country in Latin America. President Mujica thinks one of the greatest problems and causes of economic downturn in today’s world is overconsumption. He previously told BBC, “Does this planet have enough resources so seven or eight billion can have the same level of consumption and waste that today is seen in rich societies? It is this level of hyper-consumption that is harming our planet.”

Though his deeds and lifestyle are making him popular worldwide, the people of Uruguay seem to be unhappy with this merry 78-year old. While the middle class feel that they can finally relate to a leader, others feel that he needs to make better decisions. However, President Mujica isn’t too bothered about his popularity. This will probably be his last term and he is quite sure the low state pension he will receive after his retirement won’t change his lifestyle at all.

Personally, it was wonderful to get to know about someone who isn’t afraid of being different, someone who uses all his power into making the lives of other people better. It is only natural that not all of us will agree with his economic policies or his political philosophies. But we can all agree on the fact that his lifestyle – living like an ordinary man regardless of how much power and money he has – is quite inspirational. We no longer live in an era of kings and queens, being awed by their extravagant lifestyles. We live in an era of democracy where we want to feel connected to our leaders and see them as ordinary men and women just like us who take extraordinary measures to ensure our welfare. President Jose Mujica is clearly making a statement to the entire world, one which has surely established his name in history.

-Suaida Firoze 

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