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Updated: November 18, 2012 23:31 IST

A President sets a rich precedent

Hasan Suroor
Comment (21)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
President Jose Mujica works on
his flower farm .
Uruguay's President Jose Mujica works on his flower farm .

A ramshackle farm off a rural dirt road. The family’s laundry is strung on a washing line out in the open. And water comes from a well surrounded by overgrown weeds.

It might read like a description of an impoverished farmer’s house, but, actually, this is the residence of Uruguay’s left-wing President Jose Mujica who has shunned the luxurious presidential house to live on his wife’s modest farm outside the capital Montevideo.

The 77-year-old charismatic former revolutionary, who has been dubbed the world’s “poorest president”, gives away 90 per cent of his monthly salary — equivalent of $12,000 — to charity.

The only visible “trappings of power” are two police officers lounging around with a three-legged dog Manuela to keep company. And, yes, there’s also a run-down Volkswagen Beetle parked under a crumbling shed. He describes it as his “most valued” possession.

In 2010, a year after he came to power, he declared a personal annual wealth of just $1,800 — about two-third of Vice-President Danilo Astori’s declared wealth, and a third of the figure declared by his predecessor, Tabare Vasquez.

“I’ve lived like this most of my life. I can live well with what I have”, he told the BBC pointing out that he enjoyed the freedom that came with living without the burden of wealth.

“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. 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.” A soft-spoken grey-haired figure, Mr. Mujica shrugs off criticism that he is “eccentric”.

“I may appear to be an eccentric old man... But this is a free choice”, he said, in turn, criticising his critics for their “obsession” with consumerism.

Most world leaders, he said, had a “blind obsession to achieve growth with consumption, as if the contrary would mean the end of the world”. And he has no intention of emulating them.

Keywords: UruguayJose Mujica

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All is not lost ! There is some spark left in this world. Hope the
tribes of such 'poor' flourish!
Will our 'comrades' take a cue?

from:  Chandran Avinjikat
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 07:07 IST

Continuing the great South American tradition of providing moral leadership to humanity. Viva Jose Mujica, Viva Uruguayan voters.

from:  Tipu Qaimkhani
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 05:10 IST

Almighty's best creation. May God give you the energies to transform the whole world. Indian 'Aam Admi' salutes you !

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 02:33 IST

ese es mi presidente!!! genio Mujica!!

from:  tefa
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 00:29 IST

I feel proud to read news about our President at important newsletters of great countries.
I'm Uruguayan, I voted for him and I feel lucky to say that he is our President.
People here don't see all the great things that he have made to change our lives, and all the values ​​he transmits to the whole society.
I'm happy to read the comments and see that there is a lot of people that think and feel the same way than me and Mujica: There is a better way of living.

from:  Mariana
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 00:25 IST

From Uruguay, thanks for your comments...

from:  Leonardo
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012 at 00:08 IST

this man deserve for salute and we have living example to our leaders.

from:  kevinraj
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 21:15 IST

The only NewsPaper in india that know journalism... such a meaningful Newspaper... thanks.. THE HINDU...

from:  obaid
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 20:39 IST

He is the most valued person in the world. I salute you Mr. President.

from:  Hariharan
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 15:36 IST

This is yet another brilliant article from Hasan Suroor. Thank you, Sir.
I wish the Left front leaders in West Bengal took a leaf out of Jose
Mujica's book. Then, it may have been a different story in West Bengal.

from:  Nileen Putatunda
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 15:06 IST

Now, how many in India can at least dare to take a step towards such a
noble life?

from:  bharath
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 14:12 IST

even corruption in the society especially in India is because of greediness you are not only earning for your family you try to gather as much as wealth for your kids,kid's family and their decedents.most western countries are corruption free because they do not have the family structure just like India.anna hazare is not greedy because he doesn't have any its the family and greediness the cause for corruption.

from:  sharan
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 14:03 IST

I ♡ [love]this REAL MAN! Thanks HASAN SUROOR & the Hindu for making me feel good about myself and just being myself !!

from:  Prince
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 13:02 IST

A rare, great personality, a noble soul in this era. His country is
fortunate to have such a leader. We may boast, we had such good leaders
those days. Those days most of the people were straight forward,
clean,righteousness, honest and had integrity - so it was no wonder. But
now. It is saddening to note that such great people are found only
outside India.

from:  Gopalan
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 09:54 IST

He is the living example for what our hindu scriptures teach us time and again. Contentment is the greatest virtue. Hats off to such great leaders who are not polluted by materialism, which is the fundamental cause of all our problems.
Thanks to THE HINDU for bringing out such news items for public consumption. This will have impact atleast on a small segment of our population.

from:  ganesan
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 09:46 IST

Salute to such a President of a nation!Even to keep our Mahatma gandhi in poor condition, it used to cost a fortune as from the cost of even the meal he used to have!

from:  atis
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 08:50 IST

Feels very happy to see such leaders still present in the world today. India needs leaders like him. Only then we can achieve common people centric governance and get rid of the money and power hungry animals ruining the country today.

from:  Umesh
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 08:48 IST

Mr.Jose Mujica is truly what one would call a "People's President".His totally unassuming nature and the simplicity of the life he leads are what perhaps endears him to his people who must probably feel that "here is our head of state totally identifying himself with us in every aspect and way of life.MAY HIS TRIBE
INCREASE in this world for his type of leadership is what the world needs.There would then be peace all around with nary a conflict rearing its head.

from:  Raj Kumar
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 07:53 IST

There is a saying that only those who do not seek power/wealth are really worthy of it.
Uruguay must be proud and consider itself lucky to have such a President...

from:  Bharat
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 06:09 IST

Hatts off to this man, what a personality, its extremly tough to take this stand especially from such a position.It needs strong determination, I recall words from scripture "dont make me so poor that I forget you in search of food, neither so rich that I spend effort/time in maintaining and protecting it"

from:  Shammy
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 05:43 IST

Can any person in similar position follow his example? Even a Municipal Councillor will be living with all his pomp and power in India. Great Mr President of Uruguay.

from:  Kotikannan
Posted on: Nov 19, 2012 at 03:21 IST
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