Latin America & the Caribbean

Life Lessons From the World’s Poorest President

Jose Mujica

Wiki Commons

February 15, 2016 23:55 EDT

The “world’s poorest president” talks about what he has learned from life.

Jose Mujica, known affectionately as Pepe, was the president of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015, earning the title of the world’s most humble leader. Living on under $800 a month—an average salary in Uruguay—he donates some 90% of his income to charity, lives on a modest farm with his wife and three-legged dog, and drives a 1987 Volkswagen Beetle.

During his time as president, Uruguay saw a reduction in unemployment and the amount of people living below the poverty line; GDP growth; and the legalization of same-sex marriage, abortion and the production, use and distribution of marijuana—the first country in the world to do so. Mujica left office with a 65% approval rating.

“The human nature is structured in such a way,” he says, “that you end up learning much more from suffering than from a life of ease.”

A former guerilla with the left-wing Tupamaros, he spent over a decade in prison, with many years in solitary confinement—including two at the bottom of a well and seven without even a book. In this interview for Yann Artus-Bertrand’s film, Human, Mujica talks about people and power, human folly and the lessons of life.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: Roosewelt Pinheiro/ABr

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