Jose Mujica was the President of Uruguay. He started off as a revolutionary and ended up as a wise, humble, pragmatic, visionary, liberalising 80 year old. He donated 90% of his salary to charity and lived like his fellow countrymen.
He liberalised the laws on cannabis, gay marriage and abortion. Not bad for an old man. He ruled over a country that was prosperous and contented. In his early days he was imprisoned as a terrorist.
He is probably the politician that I have most respect for.
‘Former President of Uruguay Jose Mujica was once considered the poorest, most humble leader in the world. Mujica took office in March 2010, but never moved into Uruguay’s presidential palace. Instead, he opted to remain in his run-down chrysanthemum farm that he shared with his wife and several animals.’
That’s how I like my politicians – committed to doing what is right and not lining their own nests.
“Worse than drugs is drug trafficking. Much worse. Drugs are a disease, and I don’t think that there are good drugs or that marijuana is good. Nor cigarettes. No addiction is good. I include alcohol. The only good addiction is love. Forget everything else.”
The world cries out for global rules that respect the achievements of science.
I give myself the luxury of saying what I want.
Does this planet have enough resources so seven or eight billion can have the same level of consumption and waste that today is seen in rich societies? It is this level of hyper-consumption that is harming our planet.
My years in jail were a bit like a workshop for me – that actually forged my way of thinking and my values.
“Consumerism could be the final stage in human civilization, if we keep battering and attacking nature.”
“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.”
“We applied a very simple principle: Recognize the facts. Abortion is old as the world. Gay marriage, please — it’s older than the world. We had Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, please. To say it’s modern, come on, it’s older than we are. It’s an objective reality that it exists. For us, not legalizing it would be to torture people needlessly.”
“I’m not the poorest president. The poorest is the one who needs a lot to live. My lifestyle is a consequence of my wounds. I’m the son of my history. There have been years when I would have been happy just to have a mattress.”
I don’t want to be an apologist for poverty, but I can’t stand waste, useless spending, wasted energy and having to live squandering stuff.
“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.”
“Businesses just want to increase their profits; it’s up to the government to make sure they distribute enough of those profits so workers have the money to buy the goods they produce,” Mujica told businessmen at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It’s no mystery — the less poverty, the more commerce. The most important investment we can make is in human resources.”
“What’s sad is that an 80-year-old grandpa has to be the open-minded one. Old people aren’t old because of their age, but because of what’s in their heads. They are horrified at this, but they aren’t horrified at what’s happening in the streets?”
“I have a way of life that I don’t change just because I am a president. I earn more than I need, even if it’s not enough for others. For me, it is no sacrifice, it’s a duty.”
“A president is a high-level official who is elected to carry out a function. He is not a king, not a god. He is not the witch doctor of a tribe who knows everything. He is a civil servant. I think the ideal way of living is to live like the vast majority of people whom we attempt to serve and represent.”
On being happy – “To live in accordance with how one thinks. Be yourself and don’t try to impose your criteria on the rest. I don’t expect others to live like me. I want to respect people’s freedom, but I defend my freedom. And that comes with the courage to say what you think, even if sometimes others don’t share those views.”
“My goal is to achieve a little less injustice in Uruguay, to help the most vulnerable and to leave behind a political way of thinking, a way of looking at the future that will be passed on and used to move forward. There’s nothing short-term, no victory around the corner. I will not achieve paradise or anything like that. What I want is to fight for the common good to progress. Life slips by. The way to prolong it is for others to continue your work.”