José Mujica was the 40th President of Uruguay between 2010 and 2015, he gathered online fame for being “the world’s ‘humblest’ president”, a trait that many politicians wouldn’t even get shortlisted for!
- He donated 90% of his $12K wages to charity each month
- Declined to live in the opulent presidential palace or use its staff.
- Drove a Volkswagen Beetle from 1987
- In 2010, the value of the car was $1,800 and represented the entirety of the mandatory annual personal wealth declaration filed by Mujica for that year.
- In November 2014, the Uruguayan newspaper Búsqueda reported that he had been offered 1 million dollars for the car; he said that if he did get 1 million dollars for the car it would be donated to house the homeless through a programme that he supports.
In his 1st speech as president-elect he said:
“It is a mistake to think that power comes from above, when it comes from within the hearts of the masses (…) it has taken me a lifetime to learn this”
In another speech he said:
“We can almost recycle everything now. If we lived within our means, by being prudent, the 7 billion people in the world could have everything they needed. Global politics should be moving in that direction. But we think as people and countries, not as a species.”1
On staying humble in office he said:
“As soon as politicians start climbing up the ladder, they suddenly become kings. I don’t know how it works, but what I do know is that republics came to the world to make sure that no one is more than anyone else.” The pomp of office, he said, is like something left over from a feudal past: “You need a palace, red carpet, a lot of people behind you saying, ‘Yes, sir.’ I think all of that is awful.”