Yoda: Uruguay in the Lead – Jose Mujica, the World’s Most Radically Well-Intentioned President?

Cultural Intelligence, Ethics, Government
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José Mujica: is this the world’s most radical president?

Uruguay’s José Mujica lives in a tiny house rather than the presidential palace, and gives away 90% of his salary. He’s legalised marijuana and gay marriage. But his greatest legacy is governing without giving up his revolutionary ideals


A bust of Che Guevara peers down from a bookshelf in Mujica’s farmhouse. “He was unforgettable, a mould-breaker,” the president said. “He marked our entire youth.” Yet the man who, inspired by Guevara, once blew up factories owned by foreigners now offers them tax breaks. “I need capitalism to work, because I have to levy taxes to attend to the serious problems we have. Trying to overcome it all too abruptly condemns the people you are fighting for to suffering, so that instead of more bread, you have less bread,” he said. Not all Tupamaros have accompanied Mujica on his journey to soft, pragmatic socialism. “They left their ideals in their prison cells,” the former hostage Jorge Zabalza proclaimed recently. “Some old compañeros won’t understand,” Mujica said. “They don’t see our battle against people’s everyday problems, that life is not a utopia.”

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