Is there a more popular national leader serving today than José Mujica of Uruguay? I’m sure we’ve all heard of his headline grabbing legalisation of marijuana (for which he was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize), but did you also know that during the 1960s and 70s he was a guerilla leader who served 14 years in prison, including 2 years at the bottom of a well?
But probably more than his progressive policies, his popularity seems to be due in large part to his lack of apparent interest in personal wealth and its trappings. In a continent where those in power are notorious for their associations with corruption and organised crime, how refreshing to see a national leader pass up the opportunity to live in an opulent presidential palace in favour of living on his wife’s modest farm; a leader who routinely looks reassuringly dishevelled, drives a beaten up old VW Beetle and reluctantly accepts a skeleton staff of just 2 body guards.
Wouldn’t it feel like progress if a few more world leaders took the advice in the graffiti above and made themselves more like Mujica?