If you are my friend you are probably surprised that it took me so long to write this post. It is common knowledge that I am obsessed with President José Mujica and his peaceful little country. I often spend afternoons writing “I love Pepe” over and over again and imagining our beautiful little life on a marijuana farm drinking maté and growing flowers on the side. Ok, I don’t really do that, but the thought has obviously crossed my mind.
José Alberto “Pepe” Mujica Cordano has been president of Uruguay since 2010 and since then has earned the titile of “world’s poorest president”. His “poverty” is due to the fact that he donates 90% of his monthly salary to the poor to top it all off he is a vegetarian, drives a beat up Volkswage Beetle, lives in a tiny house on the outskirts of Montevideo, and cultivates and sells chrysanthemums to pay his bills. I’m half passed out from swooning!
The peaceful life he leads now can probably be attributed to a rather checkered past. In the 1960s he joined the Tupamaros movement, an armed political group inspired by the Cuban Revolution. The group was largely anti-violent, but were still labelled as guerillas and constantly faced threats of imprisonment and torture. In 1972 he was imprisoned, but not before being shot at six times. A year later after the military coup (which would turn into a dictatorship for the next 14 years) he was transferred to a military prison where he spent the better part of a decade in solitary confinement. During that time he befriended a frog and a rat whom he would share food with…this act of humanity and generosity kept him from going mad. He was released in the the early 80s and went back into politics almost immediatelly. That is the human spirit at its finest!
He seems to be pretty popular with his countrymen (all 3 million of them), but his ratings have suffered a little due to his push to legalize marijuana. Of course, this only serves to make me love him even more. I try to imagine any member of our own federal government being so generous and compassionate and my heart hurts because I know it will most likely never happen. Obama will give beautiful speeches about empathy and non-violence, but practicing what he preaches is a another story as the saying goes del dicho al hecho hay gran trecho. Special thanks to Uruguay and José Mujica for restoring a bit of my faith in humanity!