José Mujica, Uruguay's president who chose to live in a farmhouse over his country's state palace, feels offended when people call him the "world's poorest president," according to The Guardian.
Mujica, who donates the bulk of his salary to charity, flies economy class, and drives an old Volkswagen Beetle, is not happy about being tagged as "poor." In an age of austerity, the Uruguayan president wants to lead by example by not giving into privileges that come with his position.
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In the interview, Mujica said that people who consider him poor fail to understand the true meaning of wealth.
"I'm not the poorest president. The poorest is the one who needs a lot to live," he told The Guardian. "My lifestyle is a consequence of my wounds. I'm the son of my history. There have been years when I would have been happy just to have a mattress."
Since Mujica became president in 2010, he has won praises around the world for living within his means. He became even more popular by criticizing excessive consumption and pushing ahead with policies on same-sex marriage, abortion and the legalization of marijuana, according to the report.
Mujica, 78, is a former member of the Tupamaros guerilla group famous for its Robin-Hood-like notoriety during the early 1970s. The group was involved in bank robberies, kidnappings, and distributing stolen food and money among Uruguay's poor. He was shot six times and was imprisoned for 14 years in dungeon-like conditions.
He is proud of his homeland, which he considers to be one of the safest and least corrupt countries in Latin America. Mujica describes Uruguay as "an island of refugees in a world of crazy people," the report said.
"I'm just sick of the way things are. We're in an age in which we can't live without accepting the logic of the market," he said during The Guardian's interview. "Contemporary politics is all about short-term pragmatism. We have abandoned religion and philosophy ... What we have left is the automatization of doing what the market tells us."