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10 lessons from 'the world’s poorest president'


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This guy is a G if there ever was one. From Cuban-style revolutionary, to military prisoner who escaped four times, to president of Uruguay who refused to wear a tie, to beloved retired chrysanthemum farmer who preaches a simple lifestyle... they don't make 'em like Pepe Mujica any more.

My favorite quote is on starting over:

“I never get tired of saying to young people that those who are defeated are those who cease to fight, it’s always worthwhile to start over in all aspects of life, not just in politics. I believe that life is a marvellous adventure. And it’s worthwhile to start again 20 times over. Those dark, horrible years gave me a lot. For example, I do not hate. Do you know what a luxury it is not to hate?” (Source)

I like that he's pushing the world to eliminate poverty:

“I believe that the wealthiest should pay to wealthiest should pay to eliminate world poverty… It’s a nonsense that we throw away so much and we make useless things to throw away when there are women walking five kilometers to fetch two pitchers of water.” (Source)

Weird, the original article described it as a humble 1-bedroom shack! How is he gonna put 100 orphans in there?!?!?

"One hundred children orphaned by the Syrian civil war could find a home in Uruguayan President José "Pepe" Mujica's summer retreat, "a mansion and riverfront estate surrounded by rolling pastures," according to Yahoo News."

The real evidence of his humility is choice of ride, a VW Beetle.  :)

I like his brand!

Mujica keeps one-upping President Obama. This is not the first instance where Uruguay's president has taken the lead. Mujica turned his leftist guerrilla past into game-changing national leadership through several strategic political moves and by capitalizing on an everyman brand. 

Mujica is known as the sandal-wearing, VW Beetle-driving, farm-living "poorest president in the world." He donates most of his $12,000 monthly salary to charity and lives in a one-bedroom home, even though a recent reportindicates his assets to be well into the six-figure range. 

Coolness factor aside, Mujica broke ground by making Uruguay the first country to legalize the production, distribution and consumption of marijuana. Notably, he also legalized gay marriage and took in six detainees from Guantanamo Bay, which the U.S. still hasn't dismantled after promising to do so six years ago. 

Under Mujica's presidency, Uruguay is aggressively fighting a $2 billion lawsuit filed by Phillip Morris, since the country's strict anti-smoking laws force the company to place graphic warnings on 80% of all cigarette packs. And Uruguay now has the most liberal laws on abortion in all of Latin America. 

Isn't the current Pope from a similar part of South America too?

Pope Francis is from a middle-class barrio in Buenos Aires.

Okay but he spent a lot of time with the poor of Argentina, right?

Yes.  He understands the roots of poverty and cares deeply about the exploitation of the poor and disenfranchised.

Each day you are caught up in the storms of people’s lives. You have told me about their causes, you have shared your own struggles with me, and I thank you for that. You, dear brothers and sisters, often work on little things, in local situations, amid forms of injustice which you do not simply accept but actively resist, standing up to an idolatrous system which excludes, debases and kills. I have seen you work tirelessly for the soil and crops of campesinos, for their lands and communities, for a more dignified local economy, for the urbanization of their homes and settlements; you have helped them build their own homes and develop neighborhood infrastructures. You have also promoted any number of community activities aimed at reaffirming so elementary and undeniably necessary a right as that of the three “L’s”: land, lodging and labor.

This rootedness in the barrio, the land, the office, the labor union, this ability to see yourselves in the faces of others, this daily proximity to their share of troubles and their little acts of heroism: this is what enables you to practice the commandment of love, not on the basis of ideas or concepts, but rather on the basis of genuine interpersonal encounter. We do not love concepts or ideas; we love people… Commitment, true commitment, is born of the love of men and women, of children and the elderly, of peoples and communities… of names and faces which fill our hearts. From those seeds of hope patiently sown in the forgotten fringes of our planet, from those seedlings of a tenderness which struggles to grow amid the shadows of exclusion, great trees will spring up, great groves of hope to give oxygen to our world.

So I am pleased to see that you are working at close hand to care for those seedlings, but at the same time, with a broader perspective, to protect the entire forest. Your work is carried out against a horizon which, while concentrating on your own specific area, also aims to resolve at their root the more general problems of poverty, inequality and exclusion.

Good, then he has the background to enable real change to help the poor people of the world. 

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