Uruguay’s President José Mujica, known as the “poorest president in the world,” declared in 2010 that he had no assets to his name except an aging blue Volkswagen Beetle. Soon, that may no longer be the case: The president revealed that a wealthy sheikh offered him $1 million for the 27-year-old car -- and he’s considering it.
According to the weekly Uruguayan magazine Búsqueda, the million-dollar proposal came from an Arab sheikh Mujica met in June in Bolivia, during a meeting of the G77+China. The car is currently valued at around $2,800, according to Mujica’s latest financial affidavit.
“I looked at him again and asked him to repeat himself, because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” Mujica told the magazine.
It’s not the only offer he’s received for his famous car. Last September, the ambassador of Mexico, Felipe Enriquez, offered to give Mujica 10 four-wheel-drive trucks for the 1987 Beetle. Enriquez told Búsqueda he was a “profound admirer of Mujica, of his legacy, his human values, his preaching of solidarity with the needy.” The ambassador also offered to organize an auction for the car in Uruguay.
“I was a little surprised at all this, and at first I was doubtful and didn’t give it much thought,” Mujica said, according to Búsqueda. “But then I received another offer, and I took it a little more seriously.”
Mujica, 79, has become internationally renowned for his humble lifestyle and liberal social initiatives, including the legalization of same-sex marriage and abortion and a state-backed marijuana program. He is scheduled to leave office next year after reaching the end of his presidential term limit.
The president hasn’t confirmed whether he would take the $1 million offer, but if he does, he said, he would give all the money received to Plan Juntos, a government housing project he spearheaded. Mujica already gives away 90 percent of his salary to the program.