Jose Mujica, the Poorest President in the World, Condemns the Business Suit

January 31st, 2014 - by admin

BBC Mundo & Peter Orsi / Associated Press – 2014-01-31 01:55:39

The Poorest President in the World
Video produced by BBC Mundo’s Vladimir Hernandez and Gerardo Lissardy

(November 15, 2012) — The President of Uruguay Jose Mujica has been dubbed by international media as ‘the poorest president in the world’. In his latest official declaration of wealth, he says he owns just two vehicles, a small amount of property and his farmhouse. He donates 90% of his salary to charity. Mujica became president of Uruguay after a landslide victory more than two years ago.

Uruguay President Rails against the Business Suit
Peter Orsi / Associated Press

HAVANA (January 29, 2014) — War! Imperialism! Racism! Formal attire!

One after another, the leaders of Latin America denounced the ills of the world at a regional summit in Cuba on Wednesday.

It fell to famously casual Jose Mujica, the Uruguayan president, to tackle a subtler evil plaguing humankind: the business suit.

“We have to dress like English gentlemen!” exclaimed Mujica, clad in a rumpled white shirt. “That’s the suit that industrialization imposed on the world!”

“Even the Japanese had to abandon their kimonos to have prestige in the world,” he continued, gesturing forcefully and rapping a pen on the table to punctuate his words. “We all had to dress up like monkeys with ties.”

Mujica’s tirade was a light moment in an otherwise mostly sober gathering of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States that focused on hunger, poverty and inequality.

But Mujica was also trying to make a serious point: That Latin American leaders must stay faithful to their cultural roots and not alienate the common man in a region where the wealthy are a tiny minority.

Mujica is known for his homespun oratory, cantankerous personality and insistence on living simply in a world of conspicuous consumption.

Even as president, he still lives on a small, ramshackle flower farm with his wife. He gives away nine-tenths of his salary, doesn’t have a bank account and drives a VW Beetle that’s more than four decades old.

“To be free you have to have time, a little bit of time, to live, to cultivate the three, four, five unquestionable, fundamental things that are important in life,” he said in Havana. “All the rest is noise and fuss.”

Mujica is also famous for never wearing a tie.

Wednesday was no exception.

Associated Press writer Luis Andres Henao in Santiago, Chile, contributed to this report.