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The austere lifestyle of Uruguay President, Jos� Mujica

by Allanah Leahy – EM TV Online

Lord Acton famously said “absolute power corrupts absolutely” but this is not the case with the current president of Uruguay, José Mujica.

In light of Papua New Guinea’s continuous misappropriation of public funds and licenses, lack of transparency and a strong system in place to maintain checks and balances, President Mujica’s story may sound overwhelming to the majority of Papua New Guineans, to say the least.        

Internationally acclaimed President José Mujica, 79, invited the BBC to his farm in late 2012, revealing a humble and small, cluttered house where he resides with his wife and three-legged dog.

Referred to popularly as the poorest president in the world, President Mujica rejects the ‘austere’ description of his lifestyle.  

“They say I am the poor president; no I am not the poor president. Poor people are those who always want more and more.

“Those who never have enough of anything – those are the poor. Because they are in a never-ending cycle and they won’t ever have enough time in their lives. I choose this austere lifestyle; I choose not to have too many belongings so I have time to live how I want to live.”

President Mujica attributes this school of thinking to philosophers such as Epicurus, Seneca and Aymara, whom he mentions in his address at the Rio +20 Summit, held in Brazil in 2012.

“A poor person is not someone who has little but one who needs infinitely more, and more and more. This is a cultural issue.”

Mujica gives 90 per cent of his earnings to charity and his carefree appearance, cantankerous personality and home-grown manner speak volumes of his way of life.

The Huffington Post however reported a 47 per cent approval rating in accordance with consulting firm Cifra. Despite this, his rating still beats every democratically elected Uruguayan president apart from his predecessor, Tabare Vazquez.

The Huffington Post also reported Mujica’s nomination for a Nobel Prize, nominated by Dutch NGO Drug Free Institute and 115 professors at Bremen University in Germany.

The German professors stated that Mujica deserves the award because of his ‘rejection to individual riches and excessive consumerism,’ along with his ‘courageous launch of progressive drugs policy’.

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