15 Powerful Quotes From the World's Most Humble President
15 Powerful Quotes From the World's Most Humble President
By Hyacinth Mascarenhas / mic.com
Jun 28, 2014

"Modest yet bold, liberal and fun-loving."

Naming Uruguay the country of the year in 2013, the Economist may very well have described the rising nation's head of state, President José "Pepe" Mujica.

Known for his unusual frankness, fiery oration and bold leadership to turn ideas into action, the 78-year-old leader possesses and practices the very characteristics that many world leaders fail to emulate. He has also garnered international acclaim for his progressive policies, down-to-earth personality and simple presentation, which has earned him a reputation as "the world's poorest president."

Living in a small, one-bedroom farm with his wife, Sen. Lucia Toplansky, and a number of dogs (including three-legged Manuela), Mujica donates 90% of his salary to charity, leads by example in an age of austerity and has gained international acclaim for pushing ahead with policies on cannabis legalisation, same-sex marriage and abortion, while decrying excessive consumption. 

Mujica practices the simplicity he preaches. Here are some of our favorite quotes by the one-of-a-kind president with a powerful message:

1. On revolutions and revolts

Via: AP

"I've seen some springs that ended up being terrible winters. We human beings are gregarious. We can't live alone. For our lives to be possible, we depend on society. It's one thing to overturn a government or block the streets. But it's a different matter altogether to create and build a better society, one that needs organization, discipline and long-term work. Let's not confuse the two of them. I want to make it clear: I feel sympathetic with that youthful energy, but I think it's not going anywhere if it doesn't become more mature." (Source)

2. On legalizing marijuana

Via: AP

When asked about opposition to legalizing marijuana, he said:

"It has always been like that with changes. In 1913, we established divorce as a right for women in Uruguay. You know what they were saying back then? That families would dissolve. That it was the end of good manners and society. There has always been a conservative and traditional opinion out there that's afraid of change. When I was young and would go dancing at balls, we'd have to wear suits and ties. Otherwise they wouldn't let us in. I don't think anyone dresses up for dancing parties nowadays."

3. On materialism

Via: AP

"We have sacrificed the old immaterial gods, and now we are occupying the temple of the Market-God. He organizes our economy, our politics, our habits, our lives, and even provides us with rates and credit cards and gives us the appearance of happiness.

"It seems that we have been born only to consume and to consume, and when we can no longer consume, we have a feeling of frustration, and we suffer from poverty, and we are auto-marginalized." (Source)

4. On global consumption

Via: AP

"We can almost recycle everything now. If we lived within our means, by being prudent, the 7 billion people in the world could have everything they needed. Global politics should be moving in that direction. But we think as people and countries, not as a species." (Source)

5. On abortion and same-sex marriage

Via: AP

In an interview with Brazilian news agency O Globo, Mujica said

"We applied a very simple principle: Recognize the facts. Abortion is old as the world. Gay marriage, please — it's older than the world. We had Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, please. To say it's modern, come on, it's older than we are. It's an objective reality that it exists. For us, not legalizing it would be to torture people needlessly."

6. On ending conflict

Via: AP

When asked about Uruguay offering its services to try and end the 50-year-old conflict in Colombia between the government and the ELN rebel group: 

"From afar, it seems like a war without a solution and like a long sacrifice for the entire country. So when a president appears who tries to open a path to peace, I think that deserves support, because there is a lot of pain, and if they try to settle scores, the war will never end. But there is an opportunity. I would feel selfish if I did not help in any way.

"Help does not mean to intervene. I will not meddle if I am not invited to do so. But if I can serve as a go-between with my experience, I will support the government's call for dialogue with the rebel forces who also have their problems, who also have their fears. I think all us Latin Americans have to help."

7. On staying humble in office

Via: AP

"As soon as politicians start climbing up the ladder, they suddenly become kings. I don't know how it works, but what I do know is that republics came to the world to make sure that no one is more than anyone else." The pomp of office, he said, is like something left over from a feudal past: "You need a palace, red carpet, a lot of people behind you saying, 'Yes, sir.' I think all of that is awful."

8. On redistribution of wealth

Via: AP

"Businesses just want to increase their profits; it's up to the government to make sure they distribute enough of those profits so workers have the money to buy the goods they produce," Mujica told businessmen at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "It's no mystery — the less poverty, the more commerce. The most important investment we can make is in human resources."

9. On age

Via: AP

"What's sad is that an 80-year-old grandpa has to be the open-minded one. Old people aren't old because of their age, but because of what's in their heads. They are horrified at this, but they aren't horrified at what's happening in the streets?" (Source)

10. On addiction

Via: AP

"Worse that drugs is drug trafficking. Much worse. Drugs are a disease, and I don't think that there are good drugs or that marijuana is good. Nor cigarettes. No addiction is good. I include alcohol. The only good addiction is love. Forget everything else." (Source)

11. On being called the world's poorest president

Via: AP

"I'm not the poorest president. The poorest is the one who needs a lot to live. My lifestyle is a consequence of my wounds. I'm the son of my history. There have been years when I would have been happy just to have a mattress." (Source)

12. On donating 90% of his salary to charity

Via: AP

"I have a way of life that I don't change just because I am a president. I earn more than I need, even if it's not enough for others. For me, it is no sacrifice, it's a duty." (Source)

13. On his goals for Uruguay

Via: AP

"My goal is to achieve a little less injustice in Uruguay, to help the most vulnerable and to leave behind a political way of thinking, a way of looking at the future that will be passed on and used to move forward. There's nothing short-term, no victory around the corner. I will not achieve paradise or anything like that. What I want is to fight for the common good to progress. Life slips by. The way to prolong it is for others to continue your work." (Source)

14. On being a president

Via: AP

"A president is a high-level official who is elected to carry out a function. He is not a king, not a god. He is not the witch doctor of a tribe who knows everything. He is a civil servant. I think the ideal way of living is to live like the vast majority of people whom we attempt to serve and represent." (Source)

15. On the secret to happiness

Via: AP

"To live in accordance with how one thinks. Be yourself and don't try to impose your criteria on the rest. I don't expect others to live like me. I want to respect people's freedom, but I defend my freedom. And that comes with the courage to say what you think, even if sometimes others don't share those views." (Source

4.7 ·
19
Trending Today
Globalization Makes No Sense
Chris Agnos · 23,653 views today · When I lived in San Francisco, I often would marvel at the movement of goods through the ports across the bay in Oakland. Full container ships would enter the bay one after...
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 16,825 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
The Most Astounding Fact about the Universe
3 min · 3,185 views today · This is Neil Degrasse Tyson's response when asked to describe the most astounding fact about the universe. Background music is the cinematic orchestra - To build a home.
Stunning Small Homes Form Part of a Communal Compound for Best Friends
Lighter Side · 2,487 views today · If you’re lucky enough to have longtime friends even as an adult, then you know probably already know how much it means to be able to spend time together. Maybe you even have a...
Michael Moore Wants to Help You Find Your Next Anti-Trump Protest
Sarah Ruiz-Grossman · 2,118 views today · The Resistance Calendar lists upcoming rallies across the country.
To Change Everything, Start Everywhere
8 min · 2,020 views today · To Change Everything, Start Everywhere! The case for complete self-determination—a guide for the furious, the curious, and the pure of heart. To Change Everything: An...
Transition From Caterpillar to Butterfly as Analogy for Social Change
4 min · 1,943 views today · An exceprt from Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview in which Dr. Bruce Lipton talks about the fractal nature of reality and compares the current global awakening and the...
Where the Term "Redneck" Came From
15 min · 1,803 views today · If you don't know this story, you'll never look at the word the same again.  This is just a window into the sometimes shocking, subversive and untold history of the United...
The Foiled Bomb Plot in Kansas That Didn't Make Trump's Terror List
5 min · 1,754 views today · When a plot by a pro-white militia to bomb a Somali mosque in Kansas was foiled by the FBI last October, the aborted conspiracy received little national coverage - nor did it...
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min · 1,753 views today · Can you put this video into words? It's a clip from the phenomenal documentary Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke, who also made Baraka.  If you're interested in watching...
How Norway Avoided Becoming a Fascist State
George Lakey · 1,745 views today · Instead of falling to the Nazi party, Norway broke through to a social democracy. Their history shows us polarization is nothing to despair over.
DAPL Opponents Vow to 'Rise' From Ashes of Oceti Sakowin and Keep Fighting
Lauren McCauley · 1,743 views today · 'They cannot extinguish the fire that Standing Rock started,' Dallas Goldtooth declared
The London Anarchist Group Squatting Mansions to Fight Homelessness
6 min · 1,685 views today · London squatting activists ANAL (Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians) are squatting empty multi-million pound buildings and opening them up to the homeless.
From Sanctuary City to Liberated City
Frank Lara · 1,601 views today · In just one week, with several strokes of a pen, Trump unleashed upon the working class in the U.S. an attack not seen in decades. From his attack on the flawed Affordable Care...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 1,139 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 1,037 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
The Fire Within
Words by Sophie Scholl - Illustrations by Gavin Aung Than · 907 views today · Sophie Scholl (1921-1943) was a German activist who is famous for speaking out against the Nazi regime. Scholl was a member of a protest group called The White Rose, which...
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
Soraya Chemaly · 872 views today · "Stop interrupting me."  "I just said that." "No explanation needed." In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 715 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Redneck Revolt Presents: A Message to the Patriot Movement
6 min · 493 views today · Over the past few weeks, Redneck Revolt has been communicating with a former member of a III% Patriot Militia based out of Ohio. Peter made contact with our organization after...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
15 Powerful Quotes From the World's Most Humble President