"World's poorest president" stops the show in Rio



Uruguay's José "Pepe" Mujica, a former leftist tupamaro guerrilla leader who was kept in a hole and tortured for 14 years until receiving amnesty in 1985, is the world's poorest president. He makes $12,500 a month but only keeps $1,250 for himself. The rest, he donates to charity. He still drives an old VW and still lives in his modest rural farm with his wife and fellow former tupamara, senator Lucía Topolansky. Weeks ago, he announced that he'll use the presidential residence (where he doesn't live) to protect the homeless during the winter.

But what he did in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (+ 20) in late June might have been his biggest hit. This video went viral and, even though the simultaneous English translation leaves much to be desired, you'll get the idea.

At least two of Latin music's biggest stars have already tweeted about it.

"Impossible not to soak the soul with Mujica's speech," wrote Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux.

"I absolutely agree with this message," wrote Colombian superstar Juanes. "I hope you can watch it until the end. The awakening of conscience."

Pepe offers no solutions (who does?), but it's always refreshing to hear any president remind us that economic development is useless unless happiness is part of the equation.

— Enrique Lopetegui

San Antonio Current works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of San Antonio and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep San Antonio's true free press free.