Picked up by the president! Hitchhiker given lift by ‘world’s most humble’ leader after thumbing ride at side of road in Uruguay
- Uruguayan president Jose Mujica is famed for his austere lifestyle
- Paper mill worker Gerhald Acosta was hitchhiking home from work
- President Mujica gave the hitchhiker a lift in his 1987 Volkswagen Beetle
He has been nicknamed ‘the poorest president in the world’, but the President of Uruguay proved that he has a generous nature, at least, when he recently gave a lift to an unsuspecting hitchhiker.
Gerhald Acosta had been forced to leave his job at the Montes del Plata paper mill early and was walking home from work when a good Samaritan offered to give him a lift.
The shocked hitchhiker told a local newspaper that it was only as he got into the car – the president’s iconic 1987 blue Volkswagen Beetle – that he recognised that the elderly couple was actually President Jose Mujica and his wife Sen. Lucia Topolansky.
Gerhald Acosta had been forced to leave his job at the Montes del Plata paper mill early and was walking home from work when a President Jose Mujica (pictured) offered to give him a lift
Gerhald told El Observador newspaper in Uruguay that 25-30 cars had already passed him by without stopping when the big-hearted head of state came to his rescue: ‘I couldn’t believe it. The president was giving me a ride.
‘When I got out, I thanked them profusely, because not everyone helps someone out on the road, and much less a president.’
The accommodating president and his wife even allowed Gerhald to take a couple of photographs as a memento during the short journey, which he later uploaded onto his Facebook page.
President Mujica and his wife are well-known for their humble lifestyle.
Mujica, a former leftist Tupamaro guerrilla leader, famously eschewed the presidential palace after he took office in 2010, and continues to live in a ramshackle farm which is in his wife’s name.
He once declared that his blue Beetle – a symbol of his famously austere lifestyle – was his only asset, and he is thought to donate much of his £7,200-a-month ($11,000) salary to homeless charities.
Earlier this year, the president estimated his total assets were worth £213,000 ($322,883), which is still far more modest that most world leaders.
Since he assumed the presidency, liberal Mujica has led a radical overhaul of drug policies in Uruguay, setting a blueprint for other Latin American countries, and is also known for championing women’s and gay rights.
Commenting on his position, Mujica once told Al Jazeera: ‘A president is a high-level official who is elected to carry out a function. He is not a king, not a god. He is not the witch doctor of a tribe who knows everything.
‘He is a civil servant. I think the ideal way of living is to live like the vast majority of people whom we attempt to serve and represent.’
Perhaps David Cameron and Ed Milliband could learn a thing or two…