Uruguayan President Jose Mujica was declared “the poorest President in the world”, donating almost all of his income to charitable institutions.
Mujica is not an adept of the luxury life. He spends most of his time working around the house, accompanied by Manuela, his dog. According to his latest statement of assets, he owns a 1987 VW Beetle, a small amount of money and a farm where he lives. He donates 90% of his salary to charitable causes.
“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,” Mujica told BBC.
His house is in a rural area, near the capital Montevideo. The area is so modest, that his house is guarded only by two police officers, in contrast to security measures enjoyed by other heads of state.
“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,” said Mujica.
Living an austere lifestyle and donating about 90% of his monthly salary, equivalent to $12,000 to charity, has led him to be labelled as the poorest president in the world.
“I may appear to be an eccentric old man… But this is a free choice.”
Every month after he gives away his money for different charitable donations, his salary is roughly in line with the average Uruguayan income of $775 a month.
He was shot six times while he was part of the Colombian guerrilla force in the ’60s and also he served 14 years in prison. His imprisonment bred an inspiring outlook on freedom.
Jose Mujica is now occupied with his farm and its crops, hoping one day that other world leaders will follow his example.