“I’m not the poorest president. The poorest is the one who needs a lot to live. My lifestyle is a consequence of my wounds. I’m the son of my history. There have been years when I would have been happy just to have a mattress.”
This is one of the famous quotes from the world’s most humble former president, Jose Mujica who was the President of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015.
Mujica is famous for his charitable act and his willingness to donate 90% of his $12,000 monthly salary to help the poor and to support small entrepreneurs
Even though holding the highest title in the country, Mujica and his wife remained living a very humble life compared to other world leaders during his reign.
He lives in small farmhouse and still drives his old Volkswagen Beetle
Mujica driving his old Volkswagen Beetle by himself
His official residence is only guarded with two police officers and a three-legged dog
The beautiful and glamorous Presidential House that used to be the official residence of past Presidents of Uruguay is now a museum.
Since Mujica decided to live in his own house, he turned the Presidential House into a museum to honour past presidents
Unlike other Presidents and world leaders, Mujica is often criticised for his lack of concern over his appearance and posture.
In spite of this, Mujica does not get distracted with the criticisms and focuses on the country’s more important issues
While many may find him to appear as unfit for a president position, Mujica is not just a random man who got lucky in an election. He was actually a guerrilla fighter for Tupamaros, a left-wing party in Uruguay.
During his time in Tupamaros, Mujica has robbed banks which overcharged the poor, gun clubs and other businesses which were found to be corrupted and involved in embezzling public funds
He was imprisoned twice in 14 years and shot 6 times in a jailbreak attempt but that does not slow him down. He continued to fight corruption in his office as the President of Uruguay.
To him, what matter the most is the people and the country’s well-being is his sole concern. He knows that power and money will only encourage one to be corrupt if they became the only motives as he quoted “Power does not change one’s person; it only shows one’s true self.”
Mujica has truly proved that his best interests are always the people of his country and even willing to give up benefits that came with the job when he was the President of Uruguay. Not many leaders can be compared with Mujica and he is definitely one in a million. Perhaps, world leaders can learn a thing or two from Mujica on how to prioritise the public interests over personal gain.
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