Home Blog Meet the “World’s Poorest President” who Lives on a Farm and Whose Official car is a 1987 Beetle! [Photos]

Meet the “World’s Poorest President” who Lives on a Farm and Whose Official car is a 1987 Beetle! [Photos]

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Image result for jose mujica car

Former President of Uruguay Jose Mujica was once considered the poorest, most humble leader in the world. Mujica took office in March 2010, but never moved into Uruguay’s presidential palace. Instead, he lived on a farm that he shared with his wife and several animals, and his official car was a 1987 Volkswagen Beetle. He donated 90% of his monthly salary to charity.

Though Mujca is no longer president, he created his own legacy within the political landscape – one that suggests presidents are not kings, but lowly civil servants, and should behave as such.

It is commonplace to see some presidents of countries living lavish lifestyles, and in some extreme cases, looting their countries’ finances for personal gain. But not Mujica.

He is commonly known as the world’s “poorest” president because of his austere lifestyle.

For some time now, I have longed to see an example of someone in a position of monetary privilege who doesn’t live a lifestyle to match. Show me a multi-million dollar lottery winner who continues to live in a modest house, or an uber-wealthy businessperson who lives a middle-class lifestyle, I thought.






The best example I could come up with was billionaire Warren Buffet, who still lives in a house he bought in the 1950s for $31,500. But then I found out he also owns a multimillion dollar home in Laguna Beach, and owned another there that he has since sold. Not exactly what I had in mind.

But apparently I’ve been in the dark for a few years now. I just learned that a bona-fide example of someone who exemplifies what I’ve been seeking – Uruguay’s president, José Mujica – was elected in a landslide victory in the 2009 election, taking office in 2010.

 The World’s ‘Poorest’ President May also be the Richest: Meet José Mujica


Mujica’s Definition of Poor: Always Craving More

Mujica, who earns the equivalent of US $12,000/month, shunned the Presidential Mansion to continue to live in his modest house on a dirt road in a rural area outside Montevideo. He chooses to have a simple lifestyle, he says, so he has time to live how he wants to live.

More impressive is the fact that he donates around 90% of his monthly salary to causes that benefit the poor, and small scale entrepreneurs. This brings the amount he lives on, approximately $800/month, to that of the average Uruguayan’s. While that may be modest, he doesn’t feel poor. Mujica believes it’s not what one has, but having an endless craving more, that makes one poor.

 The World’s ‘Poorest’ President May also be the Richest: Meet José Mujica

Not Acting Presidential Enough in Some Eyes, but an Inspiration to Others

Mujica’s past gives clues to why he chooses to live how he does in the present. He is a former leader of a leftist guerilla group, Tupamaros, that used (admittedly violent) Robin Hood-like strategies on behalf of the poor. His activities with the Tupamaros landed him in prison for 14 years, where he says he spent much time in solitary confinement.

While his days of violence are in the past, his leftist leanings live on, and are clearly reflected in the policies he supports today, including same-sex marriage, abortion rights, renewable energy, and (to the chagrin of many Uruguayans) legalization of marijuana.


Not surprisingly, Mujica has his critics, including those who feel he doesn’t “act presidential.” But, as one Uruguayan acknowledges, Mujica is someone the common people can identify with. And I can’t help feel he is demonstrating the best type of leadership of all: living through example, with choices that reflect an understanding that a simpler life is better for the Earth, for the larger human community, and doesn’t have to equal a sense of deprivation.

In 2010, his annual personal wealth declaration – mandatory for officials in Uruguay – was $1,800, the value of his Beetle.

In an interview with BBC, he said:

“I’ve lived like this most of my life, I can live well with what I have

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…”

Mujica also has unique views about poverty alleviation. In the 2012 Rio+20 summit he stated:


 

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.

An Arab sheikh recently offered him $1 million for his Beetle. Mujica is currently considering the offer, and says that if he does sell it, he will donate the money to charity.


What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this post!

Comment(59)

  1. This is a true leader. A leader who’s served his people rather than ruled a leader with simplicity, sanity,honesty,humbly,sincerity and tranquility. A leader with national interest. Honestly speaking, his not just a leader but, a national icon and a role model to our so-called leaders/rulers those who were selfishly and looters. May ALMIGHTY help the World Honest Serving President…..

  2. Can Malawian learn a lesson from him? Malawi being the poorest country on earth, but our leaders becomes billioners soon after taking presidency. Shame on u.

  3. This is a call to serve on like some leaders who are called to rule,
    people like this are very hard to find. Let all our leaders learn from this and see if
    the world will not be a better place to be.
    This is an example of what Jesus Christ said: To be a leader you must be a servant.

  4. How can I befriend this extraordinary President; for he has set an example that no one in my imaginary can copy.

    PLEASE HELP AND THANKS.

    MacArthur M. Pay-Bayee

  5. He reminds us of Thomas Sankara, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Live the talk and walk the talk. Communist in principles and practice

  6. He has manifested the greatest principle on earth which states : life is life if it is lived for others, so we live for other to live. thumbs up for this 21st century icon. God will surely reward him and his generation.

  7. Hus deeds worth emulation.

    I wish leaders of Africa will see reasons to stop wasting taxpayers hard earned money because monies used to provide luxuries/comfort for them could help save another person’s life or help improve the livelihood of the citizens.

  8. I shared his philosophy of life after all we come with nothing and we are going with nothing how I wish Nigerian leader will learn from the past and some of our departed ones ,we would have learn not to plugged our country into these financial crisis of not been able to pay worker.
    If leaders lead by examples we I’ll address many social vices

  9. I like the idea of living free and sample, but his kind of frugality is laziness. I will not want my ex-president to live like him. being poor is not a modest living lifestyle; He is a role model in a negative way. He wants people from the third world countries to remain in poverty. He has problem and needs assistance.

  10. This is heart touching indeed. This man is an opposite of Paul Biya of Cameroon. May God give him long life.

  11. if only our leaders can emulate this great man, things would have been better for us in this nation called nigeria. African leaders are always after acquisition of wealth while in office while the people they govern live in abject poverty. May the Lord help them to have the love of the governed at heart in Jesus name. Amen.

  12. Oh, God richly bless him. African leaders, please learn from this man. We came to this world with nothing and we shall surely leave it with nothing. Learn to serve and God will bless you.

  13. A hero for the masses… A true representation of the via majority of the world. A wish my country leaders could copy this style of ruling and Change their corrupt mind. Brovo Sir, God will surely blessed you!

  14. He has a good heart but i guess its wise to be a role model at time, his people must have something to learn from him, we all strive to leave better in life, we need better education, health, housing, water, transport, electricity etc. As long he provides all this for his people then he is doing great but not to suffer for nothing.

  15. I can’t imagine the leaders of Africa will manage to like this! If you spend $5-10m for presidential candidate campaign, how much money you will make at the palace (white house)! This lesson is not only for African leaders but also Asia, America and Europe as well. The amount you spend for election campaign is it proportion to your expected salary when you are elected!? The answer is BIG NO!

  16. How I wish Nigeria politician could be like this great man. it’s only a madman that acquire wealth by all means and surely one day he must leave everything behind him. vanity upon vanity

  17. Long live Majica, president of Uraguay. You have taught those rulers a lesson of not looting innocent citizens’ resources for thier personal prosperity. Joy be to you and shame on them.

  18. A leader is sumone who cares abut his people, more respect to you a real man.We want more leader like u in Africa. Robert Mogube for is the only a good leader who is hard in Africa
    God bless you.

  19. Great leader, a True leader mentioned in the Bible. Actually I could not call Him poor. This is a kind of leader African continent should learn from….a lot of respect to you dear president.

  20. I think This pressedant is poor in wealth but rich in mind. Both rich and poor person sleep in one bed not two. I think it is better if he give training to these large belly African leaders

  21. A leader indeed, I wish the entire presidents of my continent can emulate this….long live president Mujica!

  22. Mr. Jose Mujica strong message for African leader, All of them are reach an each of one of them have at least a business or building in North America, Europe or Australia.
    Corruption and African Leaders are Twin

  23. Oh God! What a wonderful servant? May you lead this man to rules the whole World,many of our Leaders today seek first their intrest without knowing that we are the one that elected them, Most especially Liberia.They are too corrupt and selfish,heal them Lord. Let the African leaders learn from this asking God for direction to help build our continent.Father may the Almighty God continues to double your life to live millions of years and rule the World.Let God bless you in Jesus name.

  24. I wish Paul Biya of Cameroon could learn from this president and stop wasting the country’s wealth on useless foreign trips to Switzerland and Paris. All the money realized from the lone oil refinery gets into his personal account. Civil servants who earn less than 300000 thousands CFA francs ( $600)per month, ride in cars worth 40 000000 CFA francs ($ 80 000)

  25. Let Nigeria rulers that called themselves leaders hear these.a country that is well blessed by nature but our rulers has turne it into a desert were there is no water,food,job,light,no road and most especially no security but our politicians are busy looting our economy why the masses is not comfortable.we need God’s intervention.shame unto you Nigeria politicians.

  26. Your comment …absolute leader who chose to live below his mean for the sake for his people who indeed need his hand for help.amazing president long life

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