What makes us HUMAN? Jose's (Pepe Mujica) Interview – HUMAN – VIDEO

What makes us HUMAN? Jose's (Pepe Mujica) Interview - URUGUAY - #HUMAN (2015) - VIDEO

What makes us HUMAN? Jose's (Pepe Mujica) Interview – HUMAN – VIDEO

José Mujica, nicknamed Pepe Mujica, was President of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015. A former Tupamaros freedom fighter in the 60s and the 70s, he was detained, like a hostage by the dictatorship between 1973 and 1985. He advocates a philosophy of life focused on sobriety: learn to live with what is necessary and fairest.

Jose's interview – URUGUAY – HUMAN – VIDEO

Jose Mujica: The world's poorest president

It’s a common grumble that politicians’ lifestyles are far removed from those of their electorate. Not so in Uruguay. Meet the president – who lives on a ramshackle farm and gives away most of his pay.

President Mujica has shunned the luxurious house that the Uruguayan state provides for its leaders and opted to stay at his wife’s farmhouse, off a dirt road outside the capital, Montevideo.

The president and his wife work the land themselves, growing flowers.

This austere lifestyle – and the fact that Mujica donated about 90% of his monthly salary, equivalent to $12,000 (£7,500), to charity – has led him to be labeled the poorest president in the world.

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

His charitable donations – which benefit poor people and small entrepreneurs – mean his salary is roughly in line with the average Uruguayan income of $775 (£485) a month.

In 2010, his annual personal wealth declaration – mandatory for officials in Uruguay – was $1,800 (£1,100), the value of his 1987 Volkswagen Beetle.

In 2012, he added half of his wife’s assets – land, tractor, and a house.

Elected in 2009, Mujica spent the 1960s and 1970s as part of the Uruguayan guerrilla Tupamaros. He was shot six times and spent 14 years in jail. Most of his detention was spent in harsh conditions and isolation until he was freed in 1985 when Uruguay returned to democracy.

Those years in jail, Mujica says, helped shape his outlook on life.

“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,” he says.

“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,” he says. 

Prepared by: Dr. Halina Kruk Capote (Montevideo, Uruguay) & Duško Velkovski (IFJ)

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