Uruguay Prez: It's Time to Stop Wearing Suits

He rants against formal attire at regional conference

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jan 30, 2014 12:04 AM CST
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(Newser) – War! Imperialism! Racism! Formal attire! One after another, the leaders of Latin America denounced the ills of the world at a regional summit in Cuba yesterday. It fell to famously casual Jose Mujica, the Uruguayan president, to tackle a subtler evil plaguing humankind: the business suit. "We have to dress like English gentlemen!" he exclaimed, clad in a rumpled white shirt. "That's the suit that industrialization imposed on the world!" Even "the Japanese had to abandon their kimonos to have prestige in the world," he continued. "We all had to dress up like monkeys with ties."

The tirade was a light moment in an otherwise mostly sober gathering that focused on hunger, poverty, and inequality. But he was also trying to make a serious point: That Latin American leaders must stay faithful to their cultural roots and not alienate the common man in a region where the wealthy are a tiny minority. Mujica is known for his insistence on living simply: Even as president, he still lives on a small, ramshackle flower farm with his wife. He gives away nine-tenths of his salary, doesn't have a bank account, and drives a VW Beetle that's more than four decades old.

Uruguay's President Jose Mujica speaks on the second day of the CELAC Summit in Havana, Cuba.
Uruguay's President Jose Mujica speaks on the second day of the CELAC Summit in Havana, Cuba.   (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco, Cubadebate)
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To be free you have to have time, a little bit of time, to live, to cultivate the three, four, five unquestionable, fundamental things that are important in life. All the rest is noise and fuss. - Uruguay President Jose Mujica

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