A simple and exemplary life | Sunday Observer
Former Uruguayan President Jose Mujica

A simple and exemplary life

20 November, 2022

Considering the situation in many countries, many are of the belief that unlike the common citizens, politicians lead very luxurious lives. Politicians who are entitled to many perks like various allowances, quarters, luxury vehicles, security personnel and other staff, are also subject to constant public protests because of the unlimited privileges they enjoy. However, there are also those who reject all the privileges that they get as a politician and live a very simple life.

Washed clothes are spread out in the yard to dry. A weed-filled well is at one end of the yard, which provides water for washing clothes, cooking, farming and all other needs. Two police officers and a three-legged dog called ‘Manuela’ are keeping watch in the yard. Can you believe that this environment is that around the house of the president of a South American country? Jose Mujica, who served as the 40th president of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015, spends his time in this house in a very rural area, under the protection of only two police officers and a disabled dog.

Even when in office, he rejected the luxurious house in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, which the government has allocated as the official residence of the President, and he decided to live in this house in a small farm belonging to his wife. It is a house located far away from the capital of Uruguay. It is a rather old house, smaller than a typical Uruguayan businessman’s house, with minimal amenities. There is a small farm on the land where the house is located and it is special that the president and his wife grow vegetables, fruits and flowers. In addition, Mujika prepares the land for cultivation using an old tractor belonging to his wife. He also gets a lot of support from his wife for that.

Mujica is considered to be the poorest President in the world since his tenure from 2010-2015. His lifestyle is very different from the lifestyle of many heads of state around the world. Living a very simple life, he refused to receive even the monthly salary due to him during his tenure. At that time, he donated about 90 percent of his salary, which is nearly 12,000 US dollars, to various charities. It is said that he donates a large portion of his pension to charity even after his retirement.

All public officials in Uruguay must submit information about their assets annually, and in 2010 Mujica’s asset declaration stated the value of his assets as 1,800 US US dollars. That is the value of his 1987 Volkswagen Beetle.

Two years later, in 2012, Mujica made arrangements to include the property belonging to his wife in the declaration of assets he submitted. The property included the land where they live, the house and the tractor they use for farming, all of which were valued at just 215,000 US dollars. It is special that it is only two-thirds of the value of the properties owned by Danilo Astori, who held the position of Uruguay’s vice President at that time. In addition, the value of Mujica’s assets was only one-third of what his predecessor, Tabare Vasquez, who held the post of President of Uruguay, had declared.