José Mujica is the president of Uruguay. An old, modest man, and a dreamer. He does not have much, since, he declares, he does not need much. He lives in a farm with his wife, just outside the capital of the country Montevideo. He has a tractor, a three leg dog, and he donates 90% of what he makes to charity.
José Mujica is a social-democrat. In his youth, he was part of the guerrillas of 1965 and 1966 as a liberator of the Tupamaros National Liberation Movement (MLN-T). In the context of 1973, where the country was ruled by a false democracy that had turned into a military dicatorship, José Mujica, who was on the rebels side, got shot six times and spent 15 years of his life in prision, most of the time in isolation.
He came to power as president of Uruguay on October 29, 2009, winning with a percentage of more than 52% of the votes, defeating his opponent Luis Alberto Lacalle. He has been dubbed by the international press as “the poorest president in the world”. “I’m not poor” Mujica says, “poor are those who always want more and more, those who never have enough of anything. I chose this hostile lifestyle. I chose not to have many material belongings, so I have time to do what I like. ”
Another reason for which Mujica became internationally famous is his proposal to legalize marijuana in his country. Mujica proposed this in order to “end the illegal trafficking of this drug, and thus curb crime.” However, this proposal was halted due to the lack of support from Uruguayan people since, according Mujica “society is not mature yet to accept this proposal.”
He has been said to be “the best president in the world.” His speeches are motivational yet sort of utopian. It is important to take into consideration his lifestyle, unlike other presidents in the world, who need a large deployment of security wherever they go, and who aim to become ridiculously rich as soon as they get to the presidency. However, a president is competent or not depending on his actions, not his lifestyle, whether modest or extravagant. Of course, this criteria is applied to presidents all around the world – which demonstrates that a president is not better or worse depending on his wealth, as even the richest ones are worse presidents and more cynical than Jose Mujica.
This man is no ordinary president, and he shows it by breaking the established patterns of how a president should be by, for example, driving a blue beetle car to work every day, and talking about happiness and free time at the United Nations, and telling them that they are no use, that “our world needs less global organizations of all kinds, which organize conferences and forums that only hotel chains and airlines make use of”.
And as an example of how international organizations reflect the interests of those who created them, Uruguay contributes with the peace missions with 14% of its military forces, that is barely 2500 soldiers. Nothing compared to the 33 thousand troops that the U.S. sent to Japan, but a lot if we consider the size of Uruguay. “We have been there for years, we are always in the places assigned to us, however, where the decisions are made and the resources are distributed we don’t exist even to serve the coffee.” replied Mujica in front of an -almost- empty room, where hours before people flocked to witness how President Barack Obama declared the absence or death of U.S. imperialism. Nevertheless, there was enough space in the press for Mujica’s “philosophical” speech.
Ironically, during my research about this subject, I came across this video called: Talk to Al Jazeera – Jose Mujica: ‘I earn more than I need’ but I could not watch it because it has been blocked in the United States.