Often described as the “world’s poorest president” due to his determination to live like a normal person, Mujica retired from office in 2015, leaving behind a stable economy and an approval rating of 70 percent – no small accomplishment in a turbulent region.
Asked what advice he gives to politicians and world leaders, Mujica said that he advises them to “live like the majority” in order to stay in touch with real people’s issues, and to reject George Soros’s globalist vision.
“There is no future in Soros’s vision, no future that is worth living in, anyway,” the former president counsels.
After being elected to the highest office in the land, Mujica continued living the simple life, and donated 90 percent of his presidential salary to charity every month. Mujica’s example offers a strong contrast to the United States, where in politics the average member of Congress is worth more than $1 million, the former FBI Director Comey is worth $11 million, and corporations have many of the same rights as individuals when it comes to donating to political campaigns.
“The red carpet, people who play — those things,” Mujica said, mimicking a person playing a flute. “All those things are feudal leftovers. And the staff that surrounds the president are like the old court.”
Mujica explained that he didn’t have anything against rich people, per se, but he doesn’t think they do a good job representing the interests of the majority of people who aren’t rich.
In an interview with CNN en Español the former Uruguay leader criticised world leaders for not truly representing the people.
“We invented this thing called representative democracy, where we say the majority is who decides,” Mujica told CNN. “So it seems to me that we [heads of state] should live like the majority and not like the minority.”
Asked why rich people make bad representatives of poor people, Mujica said: “They tend to view the world through their perspective, which is the perspective of money. Even when operating with good intentions, the perspective they have of the world, of life, of their decisions, is informed by wealth. If we live in a world where the majority is supposed to govern, we have to try to root our perspective in that of the majority, not the minority.”
Mujica has become well known for rejecting the symbols of wealth. In an interview in May, he lashed out against neckties in comments on Spanish television that went viral.
“The tie is a useless rag that constrains your neck,” Mujica said during the interview. “I’m an enemy of consumerism. Because of this hyperconsumerism, we’re forgetting about fundamental things and wasting human strength on frivolities that have little to do with human happiness.”
He lives on a small farm on the outskirts of the capital of Montevideo with his wife, Uruguayan Sen. Lucia Topolansky and their three-legged dog Manuela. He says he rejects materialism because it would rob him of the time he uses to enjoy his passions, like tending to his flower farm and working outside.
“I don’t have the hands of a president,” Mujica told CNN. “They’re kind of mangled.”