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Uruguay: Leading the Way

The “World’s Poorest President,” and a former guerrilla fighter, Uruguay’s President, Jose Mujica has legalized the cultivation, distribution, and sale of marijuana under strict governmental regulation . The ”Poorest President” nickname comes from his austere lifestyle living on his wife’s farm instead of the Presidential Palace,) and his donation of around 90 percent of his $12,000 monthly salary to charities. President since 2010, the 79 year old Jose Mujica, spent 13 year in prison labeled a guerrilla fighter due to his politics and his “robin hood guerilla” tactics.

There is a lot of history behind President Mujica’s reasoning for legalizing marijuana, and gives one an appreciation of this rebel President who has supported and influenced the progress of this bill. TIME magazine recently recognized President Mujica as a pioneer for his revolutionary stand on Marijuana and listed him as one of 2014’s, 100 most influential people in the world. Neighboring countries have honored him with some of their highest awards. Paraguay, in 2010 presented him with their highest order of merit, the Grand Collar of the National Order of Merit, in 2011 Peru gave him their highest award, the Grand Collar of the Order of the Sun, and in 2014 Mexico has awarded President Mujica their highest award, The Order of the Aztec Eagle. Uruguay’s president is more than a politician; he is a representative of progressive revolutionary change.

President Jose Mujica has always been motivated by his interest in helping people and his community. Mujica’s political activism began in 1969 when he became involved with the Tupamaro movement; a Latin American urban revolutionary guerrilla group. The group committed small robberies, and charitable acts, such as, giving out money and food to underprivileged people in Uruguay. The Tupamaros group became known as the “robin hood guerillas” for their humanitarian and selfless actions for their people.

In the early 1970’s the Tupamaro movement took to alternative actions after they felt it apparent that the present government was depriving it’s citizens, overlooking their needs, and dictating control of the people of Uruguay regardless of any moral and ethical compass. In an attempt to help reform and improve social injustices, violence and mayhem grew out of control and unfortunately Mujica was shot six times (he lived) and arrested. In 1972, Jose Mujica escaped custody, but was later recaptured and spent 13 years in jail (some of it in solitary confinement.)

During the early 1980s, Social equality was being restored, and the Tupamaro movement consented to resolve their social concerns, take the political approach, and move away from militant guerrilla behavior. The Tupamaros political party legitimized and became the National Liberation Movement. In 1985 Jose Mujica was offered amnesty and was released from prison. Jose Mujica helped his career as a politician when he became involved in political activism and social harmony. Before being elected president in 2009 (took office in 2010), Jose Mujica had been elected as Deputy, Senate leader, and served as the Minister of agriculture.

President Mujica is definitely an influential person even though being labeled as ”The Poorest President in the World.” Uruguay’s president chooses to reside on a farm in a one bedroom home with his wife and his three legged dog. selling farm grown, chrysanthemum flowers, and driving his old VW “Beetle.” In 2012 Jose Mujica announced for Presidential palace would be included as homeless shelter for citizens. Mujica is a very humble president and only uses what is needed and doesn’t take advantage of his presidential perks; leading by example. Jose Mujica has taken a stand against war and militant behavior by verbalizing and taking action towards his concerns with the environment, politics, the economy, and his people.

Uruguay’s president Mujica respects all people’s beliefs and their way of life. He is supportive of his people’s decisions and provides them with options giving the people power and voice. He feels this important because people are important, and he thinks this ensures they are validated. Theis president is aware of touchy political subjects and he recognizes the need for change. Last year Uruguay became the second South American country to sign the bill legalizing gay marriage. Mujica has expressed his support for legalization of marijuana and abortion too.

Other world leaders have honored him as an exemplary world leader, learning from his examples. Recently the Drugs Peace Institute nominated Jose Mujica for the Nobel Peace Prize regarding his efforts in legalizing marijuana; his endeavors in standing against the drug war , and in the mean time, constantly trying to change the Drug Policy. Jose Mujica is also being recognized for donating 90% of his salary as a charitable contribution; which makes his take home wages equivalent to typical citizens. Since Jose Mujica has taken office, Uruguay has become a more socially liberal country.

Uruguay’s president legalized marijuana with regards to help public safety, health, and economic resources. The government regulates marijuana in an attempt to divert drug dealers and eliminate drug trafficking in addition to providing government licenses for the sales, cultivation and distribution of said marijuana. Uruguay residents’ can cultivate 6 marijuana plants, or up to 480 grams per year. Smokers clubs can have between 15 – 45 members and can cultivate 99 plants per year. Prices on marijuana sales are regulated to one dollar a gram. The capital made from marijuana will be used for valuable resources such as education and much needed health care.

There is no mystery as to why TIME magazine and the Drug Peace Institute recognizes, honors, and commends Jose Mujica for efforts in legalizing marijuana and his world-shattering philanthropy demonstrations. Uruguay’s president has established government policies to help consumers create economic structure. Budgets have been set aside for essential necessities such as education, free computers, and food. Mujica is a president who promotes renewable energy and recycling in his government’s policies. Jose Mujica is true a pioneer for his role in ending prohibition and becoming a positive progressive for cannabis.

BY PRINCESS JORDEN
STAFF EDITOR

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