José Mujica is not your typical head of state.
With an improbably unconventional and checkered past straight out of a Hollywood script, Uruguay’s president, José Mujica, has not dropped his eccentric lifestyle, despite the responsibilities and expectations typically bestowed the leader of a nation.
Since being elected in 2010, he has reportedly donated an estimated 90% of his monthly salary of 12,000 dollars to charities and entrepreneurs in his country.
Before being elected as leader of this tiny nation sandwiched between Brazil and Argentina, he spent his youth fighting with a leftist political group who were inspired by the Cuban Revolution. In addition to multiple apprehensions during the 1960s, he participated in the occupation of a small town named Pando, near the capital of Montevideo, and ended up serving 14 years in prison after being shot six times by the police during his apprehension.
Despite his Revolutionary youth, Mujica came to be elected as president after distancing himself from present day leftists such as Chevez of Venezuela, and Morales of Bolivia. He adopted a more centrist and pragmatic position more in line with Chile’s Michelle Bachelet, and ran with his slogan, “an honest government, a first class country.”
Mujica still drives an old VW Beetle, still resides on an austere farm outside of the capital city cultivating chrysanthemums, and is known for an informal style of dress.
During the recent CELAC-EU conference in Santiago, Chile, he met with Uruguayan expats, to discuss life and philosophy, reportedly describing himself as, “a frog from another pond.” At the end of the day of political meetings during a photo op, Mujica he slipped aside to stand by a pair of security guards while the other politicians pose for the camera.