Monday, June 25, 2012

"World's poorest president" stops the show in Rio

Posted By on Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Uruguay's José "Pepe" Mujica, a former leftist tupamaro guerrilla leader who was kept in a hole and tortured for 14 years until receiving amnesty in 1985, is the world's poorest president. He makes $12,500 a month but only keeps $1,250 for himself. The rest, he donates to charity. He still drives an old VW and still lives in his modest rural farm with his wife and fellow former tupamara, senator Lucía Topolansky. Weeks ago, he announced that he'll use the presidential residence (where he doesn't live) to protect the homeless during the winter.

But what he did in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (+ 20) in late June might have been his biggest hit. This video went viral and, even though the simultaneous English translation leaves much to be desired, you'll get the idea.

At least two of Latin music's biggest stars have already tweeted about it.

"Impossible not to soak the soul with Mujica's speech," wrote Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux.

"I absolutely agree with this message," wrote Colombian superstar Juanes. "I hope you can watch it until the end. The awakening of conscience."

Pepe offers no solutions (who does?), but it's always refreshing to hear any president remind us that economic development is useless unless happiness is part of the equation.

— Enrique Lopetegui

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