I wonder if this model will catch on with our politicians.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by tulianr, Jan 5, 2013.

  1. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — Some world leaders live in palaces. Some enjoy perks like having a discreet butler, a fleet of yachts or a wine cellar with vintage Champagnes. Then there is José Mujica, the former guerrilla who is Uruguay’s president. He lives in a run-down house on Montevideo’s outskirts with no servants at all. His security detail: two plainclothes officers parked on a dirt road.
    José Mujica shunned the presidential palace for his modest home on Montevideo’s outskirts.

    In a deliberate statement to this cattle-exporting nation of 3.3 million people, Mr. Mujica, 77, shunned the opulent Suárez y Reyes presidential mansion, with its staff of 42, remaining instead in the home where he and his wife have lived for years, on a plot of land where they grow chrysanthemums for sale in local markets.

    Visitors reach Mr. Mujica’s austere dwelling after driving down O’Higgins Road, past groves of lemon trees. His net worth upon taking office in 2010 amounted to about $1,800 — the value of the 1987 Volkswagen Beetle parked in his garage. He never wears a tie and donates about 90 percent of his salary, largely to a program for expanding housing for the poor.

    His current brand of low-key radicalism — a marked shift from his days wielding weapons in an effort to overthrow the government — exemplifies Uruguay’s emergence as arguably Latin America’s most socially liberal country.

    “We have done everything possible to make the presidency less venerated,” Mr. Mujica said in an interview one recent morning, after preparing a serving in his kitchen of mate, the herbal drink offered in a hollowed calabash gourd and commonly shared in dozens of sips through the same metal straw.

    Passing around the gourd, he acknowledged that his laid-back presidential lifestyle might seem unusual. Still, he said it amounted to a conscious choice to forgo the trappings of power and wealth. Quoting the Roman court-philosopher Seneca, Mr. Mujica said, “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor.”

    Before Mr. Mujica won the 2009 election by a wide margin, his opponent, Luis Alberto Lacalle, disparaged his small house here as a “cave.” After that, Mr. Mujica also upset some in Uruguay’s political establishment by selling off a presidential residence in a seaside resort city, calling the property “useless.”

    His donations leave him with roughly $800 a month of his salary. He said he and his wife, Lucía Topolansky, a former guerrilla who was also imprisoned and is now a senator, do not need much to live on. In a new declaration in 2012, Mr. Mujica said he was sharing ownership of assets previously in his wife’s name, including their home and farm equipment, which lifted his net worth.

    Polls show that his approval ratings have been declining, but “I don’t give a damn,” insisted Mr. Mujica, emphasizing that he considered re-election to consecutive terms, already prohibited by Uruguay’s Constitution, as “monarchic.” “If I worried about pollsters, I wouldn’t be president,” he said.

    With two years remaining in his term, Mr. Mujica seems to cherish the freedom to speak his mind. About his religious beliefs, he said he was still searching for God.

    He laments that so many societies considered economic growth a priority, calling this “a problem for our civilization” because of the demands on the planet’s resources. (Interestingly enough, Uruguay’s economy is still expanding comfortably at an estimated annual rate of 3.6 percent.)

    When the gourd of mate was empty, Mr. Mujica disappeared into his kitchen and returned with an impish grin and a bottle of Espinillar, a Uruguayan tipple distilled from sugarcane. It was not yet noon, but glasses were filled and toasts were pronounced.

    chelloveck and scrapman21009 like this.
  2. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    It appears Mr. Mujica has one thing in common with 0bama.
    tulianr and CATO like this.
  3. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    The problem with politicians (and govt. jobs to some extent) is that they draw a certain type of individual, which are NOT the kind of people who the Founders envisioned running this country. The people who are drawn to "public service" like the perks, the fame, and the sense of importance. However, they have the personality that is easily corruptible so it is rare that you get someone who is in the biz to serve their constituents. Their main goal is self-preservation to stay in their semi-royalty position.

    You are correct though, Mr. Mujica is a rare bird who is soon to be a footnote in history.
    JABECmfg, tulianr and ghrit like this.
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