Goodluck Jonathan has a lot to learn from Jose Mujica, the world’s ‘poorest’ president

Published:16 Nov, 2012

It’s a common grumble that politicians’ lifestyles are far removed from those of their electorate. Not so in Uruguay. Meet the president – who lives on a ramshackle farm and gives away most of his pay.

Laundry is strung outside the house. The water comes from a well in a yard, overgrown with weeds. Only two police officers and Manuela, a three-legged dog, keep watch outside.

This is the residence of the president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, whose lifestyle clearly differs sharply from that of most other world leaders.

President Mujica has shunned the luxurious house that the Uruguayan state provides for its leaders and opted to stay at his wife’s farmhouse, off a dirt road outside the capital, Montevideo.

The president and his wife work the land themselves, growing flowers.

This austere lifestyle – and the fact that Mujica donates about 90% of his monthly salary, equivalent to $12,000 (£7,500), to charity – has led him to be labelled the poorest president in the world.

“I may appear to be an eccentric old man … But this is a free choice.”

“I’ve lived like this most of my life,” he says, sitting on an old chair in his garden, using a cushion favoured by Manuela the dog.

“I can live well with what I have.”

His charitable donations – which benefit poor people and small entrepreneurs – mean his salary is roughly in line with the average Uruguayan income of $775 (£485) a month.

All the president’s wealth is a 1987 VW Beetle.

In 2010, his annual personal wealth declaration – mandatory for officials in Uruguay – was $1,800 (£1,100), the value of his 1987 Volkswagen Beetle.

This year, he added half of his wife’s assets – land, tractors and a house – reaching $215,000 (£135,000).

That’s still only about two-thirds of Vice-President Danilo Astori’s declared wealth, and a third of the figure declared by Mujica’s predecessor as president, Tabare Vasquez.

Elected in 2009, Mujica spent the 1960s and 1970s as part of the Uruguayan guerrilla Tupamaros, a leftist armed group inspired by the Cuban revolution.

He was shot six times and spent 14 years in jail. Most of his detention was spent in harsh conditions and isolation, until he was freed in 1985 when Uruguay returned to democracy.

Those years in jail, Mujica says, helped shape his outlook on life.

“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,” he says.

“This is a matter of freedom. If you don’t have many possessions then you don’t need to work all your life like a slave to sustain them, and therefore you have more time for yourself,” he says.

“I may appear to be an eccentric old man. But this is a free choice.”

The Uruguayan leader made a similar point when he addressed the Rio+20 summit in June this year: “We’ve been talking all afternoon about sustainable development. To get the masses out of poverty.

“But what are we thinking? Do we want the model of development and consumption of the rich countries? I ask you now: what would happen to this planet if Indians would have the same proportion of cars per household than Germans? How much oxygen would we have left?

“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.”


Related Posts

Recent Posts

Ministerial list: Submission of petitions against nominees begins Tuesday

The Senate will start receiving petitions against President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial nominees on Tuesday. The Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, told reporters on Friday in Abuja that the committee would give the petitions prompt attention once they were presented.

Tribunal: Police commissioner says Rivers guber election peaceful

Mr Akuki Keneth, the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) assigned to monitor the April 11 governorship poll in Rivers said on Friday that the election in the state was peaceful. Keneth, who is also the area commander in nine local government councils of the state, testified before the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal for Rivers sitting in Abuja.

Borno govt. to relocate IDPs back to their hometowns

The Borno State Emergency Management Agency (BOSEMA) said it had concluded arrangements with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to relocate some Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Maiduguri to their hometowns. The Chairman of BOSEMA, Alhaji Ahmed Satomi disclosed this on Friday when he visited Alhaji Mohammed Kanar, the Zonal Coordinator, NEMA, in Maiduguri.

News Alert:Twin Bomb Blast In Kuje Abuja

Breaking News!!! Kuje market under Boko harram attack right now! A bomb has just gone off at kUJE market, and another at the Kuje police station Number of casualty is still unknown Details Later

Diezani Walks Out Of Jail On Bail

Nigeria’s former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was arrested earlier today by the London metropolitan police, has been released on bail. She was picked up alongside four others. However, she has been asked to report at Charing Cross Police Station on Monday for further grilling and her passport has been seized. She’s answering for corruption and money laundering charges preferred against her. Her Abuja home was sealed by the EFCC on Friday as well.

EFCC Swarms Alison Deziani’s House in Abuja

Reports have it that operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have begun a massive search of the house of the former Minister of Petroleum, Alison Deziani. She was arrested in the UK earlier today. Details later.

Battle of the Bridge: Eva Carneiro Comes for Jose Mourinho and the FA

Former Chelsea doctor Eva Carniero released a statement today as she broke her silence after several weeks. Read the statement below. "I was surprised to learn that the FA was allegedly investigating the incident of 8th of August via the press. I was at no stage requested by the FA to make a statement. I wonder whether this might be the only formal investigation in this country where the evidence of the individuals involved in the...

Jigawa police commissioner, Usman Tilli, accused of pocketing allowances meant for fighting Boko Haram

Some police officers in Jigawa state have accused their commissioner, Usman Tilli, of pocketing the allowances of personnel posted to fight Boko Haram. The aggrieved officers, in several interviews with Premium Times, alleged that for pecuniary benefit, the police commissioner deliberately reduced the strength of the...

Ex-Petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, arrested in London over corruption

Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke was on Friday arrested in London, PREMIUM TIMES reports. She was arrested Friday morning alongside four other unidentified people by the UK National Crime agency. Diezani, who was one of the most influential ministers under the administration of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, was reportedly arrested for offences related to bribery and corruption being investigated by the UK National Crime Agency. Two top British officials in London have however confirmed the development to Premium Times newspaper. They requested...

FG Seals Up 160 Drug Shops For Dispensing Poisons

The Federal Government has closed down 160 drug shops in Akwa Ibom State for dispensing poisons and engaging in other unauthorized services to members of the public. The Deputy Director and Head of Enforcement, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), Abuja, Stephen Esumobi announced this on Friday while briefing Journalists after a one week visit of the enforcement teams of the Council to the state. He said those whose shops have been closed down had earlier...

Fake Gynecologist In Court For Raping His Patient

A Kenyan man has been charged with 12 offences including rape, impersonating a gynecologist and operating a clinic without a license in Nairobi, BBC reports. The accused, Mugo wa Wairimu pleaded not guilty and has previously denied that he raped his patients. Kenya’s Medical Practitioners Board has denied Wairimu is a registered doctor after a Kenya TV report in a footage revealed  an unidentified man allegedly assaulting an unconscious woman on a clinic...

“May your medical bill be high” -Ali Baba to corrupt Nigerian leaders

Ace comedian Ali Baba, in an Independence Day message, stated that his wish for corrupt Nigerian leaders is that "their medical bills be higher than they stole" and for “peace to be far from them.” Making the statement via his Instagram account, the comedian wrote:“Happy 55th Independence to all Nigerians. Our country will be great again. We will become...

PDP, Sylva Trade Words Ahead Of Bayelsa Poll

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bayelsa State chapter, and the Campaign Organization of Timipre Sylva, on Friday attacked each other verbally over the candidacy of the All Progressive Congress (APC) flag bearer for the December 5 governorship election. Sylva, who emerged the APC candidate, will slug it out with the sole candidate of the PDP and incumbent state Governor, Seriake Dickson. But the PDP said Sylva is not electable. The state Secretary of PDP, Keku...

The One Nigerian University Ranked Among World’s Top 800 Universities

Only one Nigerian university is ranked among the top 800 universities in the world, according to Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2015/2016 released this week. Analysis report shows that the University of Ibadan, Nigeria’s oldest university, is ranked 601st of the world’s top 800 universities featured in the survey, 200 steps lower than Makerere University, Uganda, which is ranked 401st. The ranking was released on Wednesday, September 30, 2015. Read...

#BelieveItOrNot Bosnian Team Sack Coach Via Facebook Post!

Vladica Petrovic logged on to his personal account to find out that he had lost his job, and subsequently posted a comment, which has received over 200 likes on the social network Most people check Facebook to see what their friends are up to, and whether they’ve missed their mum’s birthday. Drina Zvornik coach Vladica Petrovic, however, logged on to find out that he had been sacked! The club, bottom of the Bosnian Premier League with...

Passenger airplane missing in eastern Indonesia

A small passenger plane with 10 people aboard is missing on a domestic flight in eastern Indonesia, officials said on Friday. Indonesia Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata said the DHC-6 Twin Otter plane lost contact at 0636 GMT; 11 minutes after taking off from Masamba in South Sulawesi province. No distress signal was received. The plane which was headed for Makassar, the provincial capital, was carrying three crew and seven passengers, including three children, Barata said. "The aircraft is operated by Aviastar...

Ini Edo Stuns In Lounge Opening With Killer Dress

When we think she is a stunner, she stuns even harder. Sexy nollywood star, Ini Edo, flatters this glittered dress at a lounge opening and also shared a selfie showing her flawless make up. Plus Ini Edo has four gorgeous selfie snap angles... can you beat that? See Instagram pics below:

Footballer jailed for one year for breaking opponent’s leg

Nathaniel Kerr, a footballer in Britain's Sunday League has been jailed for a year after he deliberately broke an opponent's leg on Friday. The court said that the 24-year-old AFC Gold Cup player, pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court to assault. Kerr jumped on...

Abiola Akintunde: Nigeria At 55; The Path Towards Development

   Fellow Nigerians, greetings to you on this day as we celebrated together Yesterday, the crown we achieved as a reward of the agitation and struggles of our heroes past towards a free society freed from dependence and servitude forcefully imposed on our people over a century ago. The conditions of today may be a stumbling block to the realisation that; this is a day we should and must celebrate. Since it is the attainment of independence...

Muslims to pray for Mecca stampede victims Oct 4

A Nigerian Muslim body, Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, has said it is calling for a nationwide prayer for all the victims of the fallen crane and the Mina stampede during this year holy pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. The body, in a statement on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji M.A. Adebanjo, said the...

Mina Stampede: Emir Sanusi meets with Saudi Authorities on transparent probe

The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II, on Friday said he held a meeting with Saudi Authorities on the ongoing investigation into the recent stampede in Mina, Mecca. More than 747 Muslims, including 64 Nigerians, lost their lives and 805 others injured at a stampede on the way to Jamarat complex (stone throwing site) on Sept.24.