I'm ashamed to say that I was completely unfamiliar with the exploits of Jose Mujica, the onetime guerilla fighter who has been president of Uruguay since 2010. (So this is not "news" per se, but education is power.) Having been brought up to date by an excellent Simon Romero story on Mr. Mujica this weekend, we are prepared to declare him The President of Our Dreams Who Is the President You Would Design in Your Imagination But Never Expect to Exist in the Real World. Consider:
- In the late 1960s, inspired by the Cuban revolution, he became an anti-government guerilla fighter. He was eventually shot six times by the police and sent to prison for more than a decade, including a two-year stint in solitary at "the bottom of a well."
- "His net worth upon taking office in 2010 amounted to about $1,800 - the value of the 1987 Volkswagen Beetle parked in his garage. He never wears a tie and donates about 90 percent of his salary, largely to a program for expanding housing for the poor." He keeps about $800 a month for himself.
- "Under Mr. Mujica, who took office in 2010, Uruguay has drawn attention for seeking to legalize marijuana and same-sex marriage, while also enacting one of the region's most sweeping abortion rights laws and sharply boosting the use of renewable energy sources like wind and biomass." LIBERAL DREAMBOAT.
- He decided not to live in the presidential mansion after becoming president, electing to say in his tiny-ass apartment outside Montevideo.
- He disparages the idea of serving more than one term as president.
Jose Mujica is like the ideal of what people thought Castro or Chavez might be, before they turned into corrupt power-mad dictators. Western politico-tourists, get to Uruguay in the next two years, before the dream is over!
[The full (excellent) NYT story. Photo: AP]