Uruguay's leader declares $322,883 in wealth

LEONARDO HABERKORN Associated Press Published:

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) -- Uruguayan President Jose Mujica says his wealth adds up to $322,883. Nearly a third of that is cash, kept in three bank accounts that he didn't previously declare.

Mujica's insistence on living simply has earned him the nickname "the poorest president in the world," but his sworn declaration this year shows zero debts and a 74 percent increase in wealth since 2012.

The form he submitted to Uruguay's transparency and public ethics board doesn't require Mujica to declare the source of the $103,451 in cash he says he now keeps in banks. The joint annual income he makes with his wife, Sen. Lucia Topolansky, totals $229,450, and they declared no debts, owning their land and cars outright.

Most of the cash is in two accounts at the Banco Republica Oriental de Uruguay, while another $14,062 is kept in an account at Bandes, a Venezuelan development bank.

The president's spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the declaration emailed by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Mujica has said that he habitually donates most of his income. In the "observations" section of the form, Mujica writes in longhand that since becoming president in 2010, he has given about $25,500 in cash and $60,348 in heavy equipment to "Plan Juntos" a housing organization supported by the ruling Broad Front coalition, and donated $86,068 to the coalition itself.

Mujica and Topolansky are former leftist guerrillas who often speak out against greed and consumerism, and say they learned to live on very little during their long years in prison under Uruguay's 1973-1985 dictatorship. They gave up a chance to live in the luxurious presidential mansion after he was elected four years ago, staying instead on their ramshackle flower farm, which Mujica declared to be worth about $108,000. They share ownership in two other properties as well.

Mujica also declared three tractors, each worth more than his two 1987 Volkswagen Beetles, which together value about $4,750.

Uruguay's 42,000 public officials have to make sworn wealth declarations every two years, but only the top two are required to make them public.

Vice President Daniel Astori says he's worth $389,000.