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Who is the poorest president in the world?

Who is the poorest president in the world?

The “poorest” president in the world, José Alberto “Pepe” Mujica Cordano, was in the news again recently largely due to his progressive attitudes and successful campaign to legalize marijuana.  President of Uruguay since 2010, Cordano was born on May 20, 1935.  He earned the unofficial title of “the world’s ‘poorest’ president” because he donates almost 90 percent of his $12,000 a month salary to small businesses and charitable organizations.

poorest president

José Alberto “Pepe” Mujica Cordano (Center)

Cordano, once a “guerrilla fighter” for Tupamaros—defined by some as a “Robin Hood”-styled group that “stole from the rich and gave to the poor”—is no stranger to adversity having been imprisoned twice (for almost 14 years) and shot several times as well.  He served as Minister of Livestock, Agriculture, and Fisheries from 20o5 to 2008.

He perhaps first significantly came into the political public spotlight as a senator and then a member of the Broad Front coalition of left-wing parties.  In 2009 he won the race for president.  He took office in March of 2010.  He lives a comparatively austere lifestyle despite his current position.

While he could reside in the palace complete with a staff of 42, he chooses instead to remain on his humble farm just a few minutes outside the capital.

Many outside observers are impressed that this country’s leader prefers a 1987 Volkswagen Beetle over something more stereotypically “presidential”.  The government requires that he have two guards posted on his road but he has no security force or secret service.  Cordano also remains a farmer albeit part-time growing and marketing chrysanthemums.

José Alberto "Pepe" Mujica Cordano

The 1987 Volkswagon

This lifestyle choice has earned him the aforementioned moniker.  However, Cordano is uncomfortable with being known as “the world’s poorest president”.  He says: “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor.”

His wife of 8 years, Lucía Topolansky, is also a former imprisoned member of Tupamaros and currently a senator.  With the support of his spouse he has not only decriminalized marijuana but accomplished many other noteworthy achievements including the legalization of same-sex marriage, the establishment of significant abortion rights laws and an elevated use of renewable energy sources such as biomass and wind.  Only time will tell what other impressive actions the 40th President of Uruguay may take while still in office.

(Images courtesy of Imgur)

Who is the poorest president in the world?  José Alberto “Pepe” Mujica Cordano


About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.