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The Poorest President Ever

A Humble Legacy of José Mujica

By George Tete Kodjo AkamaPublished 5 months ago 3 min read

The word "President " resonates wealth, abundance, affluence, prosperity, etc. But this is not the case of José Mujica, former president of Uruguay who was the poorest president ever.

José Mujica, also known as "Pepe" Mujica, is a Uruguayan politician and former president of Uruguay. He was born on May 20, 1935, in Montevideo, Uruguay. Mujica is known for his unique and humble lifestyle, as well as his progressive political views grew up in the neighborhoods of Montevideo.

Mujica was born on 20 May 1935, to Demetrio Mujica, of Spanish Basque ancestry and Lucy Cordano, a daughter of Italian immigrants. Mujica's father was a small farmer who went bankrupt shortly before his death in 1940, when his son was five. His maternal grandparents were very poor Italian immigrants from Liguria. Between the ages of 13 and 17, Mujica cycled for several clubs in different categories.

Early in the 1960s, Mujica joined the Tupamaro, a revolutionary group created by Raúl Sendic and others with the intention of overthrowing Uruguay's oppressive government. Within a short period of time, the Tupamaro escalated to violent acts including arson, political kidnappings, and the killings of several police officers and other people. Mujica was repeatedly detained for his actions, and in 1971, he was found guilty of killing a police officer. He attempted two prison breaks but was caught both times, serving a total of 14 years. Mujica suffered torture and long stints in solitary confinement while a prisoner of the ruthless military dictatorship that seized control in a coup in June 1973, including two years at the bottom of a well.

In the early 1960s Mujica joined the Tupamaro, a revolutionary organization founded by Sendic and others whose goal was to undermine Uruguay’s repressive leadership. Within a few years the Tupamaro turned to violent actions, including arson, political kidnappings, and assassinations of a number of police officers and some others. Mujica was arrested several times for his activities and was convicted in 1971 of having killed a police officer. He escaped from prison twice but was recaptured both times and served some 14 years in all. As a prisoner of the brutal military dictatorship that seized power in a coup in June 1973, Mujica was tortured and spent long periods of time in solitary confinement, including two years at the bottom of a well.

Mujica joined the Tupamaros, a guerrilla group in Uruguay, during the 1960s. He participated in armed activities against the government, which led to his imprisonment in the early 1970s. Mujica spent a total of 13 years in prison, including more than 10 years in solitary confinement.

After the military dictatorship ended in Uruguay, Mujica was released from prison in 1985. He subsequently became involved in politics and co-founded the Broad Front coalition, a left-wing political party. Mujica served as a member of the Uruguayan Parliament, both as a senator and a deputy, for several terms.

In 2005, Mujica married Lucía Topolansky, a fellow former Tupamaros member after many years living together. They have no children and live on a farm owned by Lucía in the outskirts of Montevideo, where they cultivate chrysanthemums for sale.

In 2009, Mujica was elected as the President of Uruguay, serving from 2010 to 2015. His presidency was marked by his austere lifestyle and his commitment to social justice and equality. Mujica was known for donating the majority of his salary to charitable causes and living in a modest farmhouse instead of the presidential palace. He donated most of his salary as president to charity and the only possession he had when he took office in 2010 was his 1987 Volkswagen Beetle.

During his presidency, Mujica implemented several progressive policies in Uruguay. He focused on poverty reduction, social welfare programs, and the legalization of same-sex marriage, abortion, and the recreational use of marijuana. His government also emphasized renewable energy and environmental sustainability. José Mujica gained international recognition for his humble and frugal lifestyle, which stood in stark contrast to the lavish lifestyles of many political leaders. He became a symbol of modesty and integrity, inspiring people around the world.

After completing his presidency in 2015, Mujica retired from active politics but remained a respected figure both in Uruguay and globally. He continues to be an advocate for social justice and has occasionally shared his perspectives on various issues, including income inequality, climate change, and global politics.

Having declined all the luxurious benefits for ex-presidents, José continue living on the farmhouse with his wife and their three-legged dog Manuela, where he enjoys his peace of mind in serenity.

Mujica is an atheist


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