Usually presidents are not associated with generosity. But the President of Uruguay, José Mujica, has earned the nickname of the “Most Generous,” or the “poorest,” president in the world — depending on how you see things— after revealing that he donates 90 percent of his earnings, to charitable causes. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, are even linked to big spending and generous welfare programs.
In a recent interview, Mujica told Spain’s El Mundo that he earns a salary of $12,500 a month, but only keeps $1,250 for himself, donating the rest to charity. The president said that the only big item he owns is his VW car, valued at $1,945 dollars. The farmhouse in which he lives in Montevideo is under his wife’s name, Lucía Topolansky, a Senator, who also donates part of her salary.
“I do fine with that amount; I have to do fine because there are many Uruguayans who live with much less,” the president told to El Mundo.
The 77-year-old Mujica is a former guerilla leader, who fought against Uruguay’s military regimes in the 1970s. He was also Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries from 2005 to 2008 and afterwards, served as a senator. Later on, as presidential candidate for the Broad Front, the left-wing coalition, Mujica won the 2009 election becoming Uruguay’s president on March 1, 2010.
Uruguay is the second smallest nation in South America by area, after Suriname. However it is one of the most developed countries on the continent, with a GDP per capita of $15,656. That’s less than half of United States’ GDP per capita, but it triples earnings in Honduras which has a GDP per capita of just $4,345.
Under Mujica’s stewardship, Uruguay has become known for low levels of corruption. The South American country ranks as the second least corrupt country in Latin America in Transparency International’s global corruption index.
Uruguay also made it to the world cup 2010 semi-finals while Mujica was in office, and the country won the South American Soccer championships in 2011, stunning tournament hosts Argentina, in a memorable performance by striker Diego Forlan. It seems therefore, that it’s a good time to be Jose Mujica.
Without bank accounts, and with few debts, Mujica told El Mundo that he sleeps peacefully. When his term is over, the
President hopes to rest even more peacefully in his farmhouse, along with his wife and his inseparable dog, Manuela.