The ex-President of Uruguay, José Mujica or how he is known by the people, Pepe, is a man in his 80s, who believes that a better world is still possible. In his early life, he was a Guerrilla and a prisoner for thirteen years between the 70s and 80s. Later on, he become a president and impressed people around the world with his ideology and kindness through his speech at the United Nations conference in 2013.
As soon as he became President in 2010, surprisingly, he decided to live in his old and “poor” house, a one bedroom apartment in the countryside of Montevideo as the majority of Uruguayans live. The presidential location was left to be used for homeless people. And instead of buying a presidential airplane, he bought a modern helicopter for medical purpose to reach the emergency cases where there are no medical care services. Another change in the global view was the approbation of cannabis by law for medical use in limited dose in order to control the black market.
“I am not poor, I am austere! Poor are the people who want more and more, otherwise they are frustrated. The less you have more time you have, and more time you have happier you are.” – Mujica’s response to the journalists that call him the poorest President.
In the period when Mujica was president, he donated 90% of his salary each month to charities like Plan Juntos and Fondo Raul Sendic which he actually founded himself in 2005. “Plan JUNTOS” is a charitable organisation that aims to build homes for single women with children. Uruguay is a small country, in America Latina, with 3,5 million people where the problem of housing is huge and the people are struggling with basic needs. Fondo Raul Sendic, on the other hand, Fondo Raul Sendic, on the other hand, was created to help small business entrepreneurs at risk of going bankrupt.
Let’s meet the Sanchez family and their activity of handmade chairs. Hugo and his wife, both blind, their 22 year old son is unemployed and their daughter, 17 years old, is a student. The family in September 2009 were struggling but were helped massively by Fondo Raul Sedic. Hugo 68, a bulrush chair maker, was struggling financially since 2002, due to all the variables of his work, for example, the weather and the water availability in the rivers where the bulrush grows. He found out about the Fondo Raul Sedic from the community, which lent him 3000 pesos. This was enough to give to this family a little bit of rest until the summer came and the business can start again. The money lent was given back without any interest after six months.
“If everyone on earth would consume as an American does, we couldn’t survive” – José Mujica