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Meet the World’s “Poorest” President who Lives on a Farm: Uruguay’s Jose Mujica

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He lives on a farm, and his official car is a 1987 Volkswagen Beetle. He donates 90% of his monthly salary to charity. President of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, is not your average president.

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.

Mujica rejected the luxurious presidential residence the government provided for him and instead opted to live on his wife’s farm located on a dirt road outside the country’s capital. They have no domestic workers – they do all the farm work by themselves. The only staff they have are two police officers.

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.

Mujica's car

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.

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In a world where it is possible for one single state to spend over N442 million on plates, spoons, and curtains for a government house, it is somewhat refreshing to know that selfless leaders like Mujica still exist.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/AP

35 Comments

  1. ammiejay

    November 7, 2014 at 11:15 am

    the man is VERY far from poor. Someone once said “God measures wealth by the quality of our lives and our generous disbursement of wealth to bless others”.

    • Pat

      November 7, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      @Ammiejay wow! Those are words of wisdom.

  2. omoibo

    November 7, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Hey, as long as he’s happy & fulfilled which it sounds like he is then I say more grease to his elbows. He epitomizes the term “servant leader” only a very few of those exist….

  3. sade

    November 7, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Yes o

  4. moni

    November 7, 2014 at 11:33 am

    He’s the richest man on earth. God bless him

  5. TA

    November 7, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Oh my dear Bella Naija! see why I love you guys to bits. 🙂 This quote from the article, resonated strongly with me ‘In a world where it is possible for one single state to spend over N442 million on plates, spoons, and curtains for a government house, it is somewhat refreshing to know that selfless leaders like Mujica still exist.’ Very very refreshing I tell you. And I have always admired Jose Mujica because of his views on wealth and possessions. ‘Poor people’ are the ones who are never satisfied, always always looking for more.

  6. aisha

    November 7, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Amazing man…life is vanity upon vanity!Guess he realized that early in life……God bless ur soul…Its very obvious he doesn’t need all the money to be happy…I salute your courage!

  7. faustina

    November 7, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Wish the Next nigeria leader wud take a lift from dis even if is only 40% thay can give from there salaries every month it wud go a long way!

    • Noni

      November 12, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      40% is even too far, they should stop stealing first

  8. efe

    November 7, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Nigerian Politicians in Power,take a lead from this man,and stop storing and acquiring VANITY.
    Always stealing and misusing the Nations money for Private frivolities.
    Hmmmm

  9. snoopy

    November 7, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    una dey see person pls other president should learn from such a person God this man….

  10. opuingo

    November 7, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Wow!

  11. nancy

    November 7, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    He is a good leader, hw I wish others will emulate him

  12. Sly

    November 7, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    What a man!This must be a man after God’s own heart.Affecting his society positively, discarding the lucre lure of mere material property and providing exemplary leadership to his people.Amazing man.God bless his heart.He is even richer than so many of our so called leaders because his heart is made of pure gold.

  13. sumbor

    November 7, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    God bless this man!if only our leaders have our interest at heart.

  14. Aderonke says #Bring BackOurGirls

    November 7, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    This is pretty amazing and should be celebrated. Well done Bella for celebrating him. He is beyond poor, he is truly blessed. I am humbled by his actions

  15. Uche

    November 7, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Wish i had same spirit. I can only try thou… God help me everyday. Oga President, God bless your soul. we keep chasing after the least important things in life…….

  16. olu

    November 7, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    If our president lives like this, our people go yab and crucify am die. They will say he has something to hide. How many of us go to poor churches anymore…don’t we call them pocessed and broke? Heck, some still laugh at GEJ for saying he had no shoes while growing up. We make and deserve the leaders we have in Nigeria.

  17. MIMI

    November 7, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    This is what I call absolute power, self-assuredness and fearlessness. For a president to move around driving a beetle, with just 2 policemen as staff and lives in an open farm, it shows that his wealth is in what other powerful men fight for. Which powerful man can walk around freely without fear of being attacked by another, lives the simplest life and still controls a nation? He understands that he is untouchable, invincible, indomitable. His power is beyond money. He is power, and that is where his wealth lies. Fear such a man who fears nothing.

  18. Akua

    November 7, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    In heaven, he is the richest. His good works will never go in vain. We should all emulate his behavior. God help me.

  19. Adeola Opeloyeru

    November 7, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    I like this man, Physically he may be poor, but Spiritually he is the richest. God bless you and i tell you your mansion is already completed in Heaven.

  20. tee

    November 7, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    wow! forbes should start rating people based on humilty . if they do this man will be at the top of the list. peole will think he”s stupid or foolish especially nigerian politicians.

  21. Tony

    November 7, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Oga Joe, over to you o. Oga Joe told us in 2011 that he had no shoes, guess he has been buying shoes since he won the 2011 election. Oga Joe please stop buying shoes and learn from this president. LOL. The people of Uruguay should be proud of their president

  22. abujakenneth

    November 7, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Even only one of our APC Governor will emulate this then I will know they are different from PDP.

  23. ATL's finest

    November 7, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    You do be shocked how smart he is. A lot of Europeans that I come across not value material things to be honest. Only us black folks worry about stuffs like things and even end up in a bigger mess due to show offs or trying to impress someone lol.When he past away, you will be surprise as to what shies got. He’s reply to folks calling him poor is enough to conclude that he’s smart. .

  24. soxy

    November 7, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    I hope one day I have a heart like this man… God bless u abundantly and may you make heaven at the end of your earthly journey.

  25. cross

    November 7, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Wow, I’m speechless!

  26. Concerned

    November 8, 2014 at 3:05 am

    Its quite refreshing to know that such a leader exists in our time. Poverty is of the mind and poverty of the mind is the worst kind of poverty. The financial wealth flaunted by leaders who are morally bankrupt only makes them little in the eyes of people who know better. Dignity should come from labour and not stealing from common wealth of 160 million Nigerians.

    Nigerian leaders in the last 40 years have been people who suffer from poverty of the mind which is why despite what they have stolen and material wealth they will never be satisfied even if they are given another century to continue looting. Its so sad how men who are meant to be our fathers, uncles, elders and relatives are so shameless about stealing and still demand respect from the same society they steal from. What a shame that we have these people we call leaders in Nigeria instead of thieves.

  27. mohd gbedako

    December 2, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    may god bless mr president,may our leaders emmulat from you.

  28. ABASITORO

    December 19, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    GOD CANNOT LACK A SEED OF TRUTH TO SHOW A LIFE OF SHEPHEREDHOOD

  29. HELEN ABASITORO

    December 19, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    A LEADER WITH TRUE QUALITY OF LOVE AND CARE FOR THE LIVES AND WELFARE OF HIS CITIZENS

  30. WAS DE SILVA

    July 12, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Humble human being. Your simple way of life is truly admirable. This is what lord Buddha has preached.

  31. jesse

    July 26, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    that’s a leader that can stand for his people

  32. Abdul Ganiyu

    November 13, 2016 at 10:01 am

    I like his lifestyle, may God provides his types De more

  33. stephen phiri

    February 1, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    You are the blessed leader ,may the good god bless you.

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