16 November 2012

The political culture that is Uruguay

Marginal Revolution — Small steps toward a much better world.
Laundry is strung outside the house. The water comes from a well in a yard, overgrown with weeds. Only two police officers and Manuela, a three-legged dog, keep watch outside.
This is the residence of the president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, whose lifestyle clearly differs sharply from that of most other world leaders.
President Mujica has shunned the luxurious house that the Uruguayan state provides for its leaders and opted to stay at his wife's farmhouse, off a dirt road outside the capital, Montevideo.
The president and his wife work the land themselves, growing flowers.
This austere lifestyle – and the fact that Mujica donates about 90% of his monthly salary, equivalent to $12,000 (£7,500), to charity – has led him to be labelled the poorest president in the world.
…His charitable donations – which benefit poor people and small entrepreneurs – mean his salary is roughly in line with the average Uruguayan income of $775 (£485) a month.
In 2010, his annual personal wealth declaration – mandatory for officials in Uruguay – was $1,800 (£1,100), the value of his 1987 Volkswagen Beetle.
The article is here, and for the pointer I thank Adam Dayan.

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