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The extraordinary Uruguayan president, José Mujica

José "Pepe" Mujica, 77, is possibly the world's most atypical politician. He used to be an urban guerrilla fighter and spent 14 years in prison during the military dictatorship in the 70s, 80s. A few years after his release from prison (amnesty was granted to political prisoners after the dictatorship ended and democracy returned), he was elected to Congress and then became a member of the Uruguayan Senate. He has been President since 2010 (Uruguay has 5 year Presidential terms). He does not live in the Presidential Palace, but on his wife's fruit and vegetable farm in the outskirts of Montevideo. He drives an old VW "beetle". He donates 90% of his Presidential salary to charity. Under his mandate, Uruguay has prospered economically and socially. He is a socialist for sure, but knows how to use capitalism when it helps everyone. The unemployment rate in Uruguay is lower than that of the US at the moment. And he is an ATHEIST! Though he cloaks his atheism in a "could be" attitude, though it's pretty clear he is not a believer.

I found this article about him, written in English, and I thought you guys might enjoy it.

Op-Ed: 'Pepe' Mujica — Definitely not your average politician

Igor
By Igor I. Solar
Sep 26, 2012 in Politics

Montevideo - José Mujica, president of Uruguay, has been described as the world’s poorest and most generous political leader; he donates about 90% of his salary to charities, lives in a modest house at his wife’s flower farm, and drives a 1987 VW Beetle.
José Mujica, 77, is an atypical politician. Uruguayans know him as "Pepe" and just about everyone in the country agrees that, in everyday life, he’s a citizen like any other, except he doesn’t have a bank account and has very few debts. He lists an old VW Beetle as his only personal asset, although he also gets to use, as official transport vehicle, a humble Chevrolet Corsa which he calls “the Presidential car”. By law, Mujica’s annual salary is about US$ 150,000. Pepe keeps 10% of it for personal expenses and transfers the rest to a Foundation administered by the Movement of Popular Participation, his political left-wing organization, which supports small productive enterprises and NGOs working on housing developments for the poor. That leaves Mujica about US$ 1,250 a month.
“I do fine with that amount; I have to do fine because there are many Uruguayans who live with much less,”
said Mujica in an interview with El Mundo (in Spanish). Lowest paid politician How does Mujica’s salary compare with earnings of other political leaders? Assuming that most of the highest-paid political leaders do not give away an important fraction of their salary, and just to mention a few comparative examples, Mujica’s annual take-home pay (US$15,000) is 5.8 percent of David Cameron’s (UK) annual income; 4.2 percent of Stephen Harper’s (Canada); 3.1 percent of B. Obama’s yearly income (USA); 2.9 percent of Kenya’s Raila Odinga; just 2.5 percent of what Julia Gillard of Australia earns, and only 0.7% of the income amassed by Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore. An example of austerity and solidarity At a time when many world leaders request or impose austerity on their country’s citizens, Mujica himself maintains a very simple and austere lifestyle. He doesn’t live in the Palace of Suarez y Reyes, the official presidential residence. Instead, he lives in a farmhouse in Rincón del Cerro, a locality in the outskirts of Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital. The farm and the house are the property of his wife Lucía Topolansky, whom Pepe married in 2005 after many years of co-habitation. At Lucía’s farm, the couple operates a vegetable and flower growing business. During the coldest days of the winter of 2012 (Southern Hemisphere), Mujica offered the use of the presidential residence, normally used for government meetings, to serve as shelter for homeless families. The Ministry of Social Development (MIDES) managed to find suitable alternatives, and the Presidential Palace was not used, but it remains as an option in case of emergencies. Most recently, just a few days ago, José Mujica took part in a meeting of CEFIR (Training Center for Regional Integration) where he attended a lecture on "Challenges for Mercosur" (the Southern Common Market). He had a bruised nose. When asked about the cause of his injury, he confessed it happened while helping a neighbour to repair a metal roof after a severe wind storm that recently hit Southern Brazil, Uruguay and Northern Argentina. The former guerrilla fighter Jose Mujica was a leader of the Uruguayan guerrilla group known as the National Liberation Movement - Tupamaros (MLN). Between 1960 and 1972, the Tupamaros clashed with the Conservative government of Uruguay, but were defeated in 1972. Most Tupamaro leaders, including José Mujica, were jailed and remained in captivity during the military dictatorship that ruled the country between 1973 and 1985.

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Comment by Chris on November 17, 2012 at 10:56pm

I liked his speech at the Rio+20 conference. I just subscribed to International living and look forward to what it says about Uruguay and other countries in Central and South America. Their Quality of Life Index is very thorough.

Comment by Davy on November 13, 2012 at 8:34am

What he is doing is what REAL Leadership is all about. My kind of man!

Comment by Adriana on November 13, 2012 at 7:44am

Under Mujica’s government, Uruguay has become known for low levels of corruption. The country ranks as the second least corrupt country in Latin America (after Chile) in the Transparency International’s Global Corruption Index (25th worldwide), and was listed second in Latin America (after Argentina) in the 2011 International Living’s Quality of Life Index(22nd worldwide).

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