A Nobel Peace Prize for the World's "Poorest" President?

PHOTO: Uruguayan President Jose Mujica at his office in the government house in Montevideo, on September 5, 2012, during an exclusive interview given to AFP.

Miguel Rojo/AFP/Getty Images

A Dutch NGO called the Drugs Peace Institute recently made a bold proposal to Uruguayan President José Mujica.

The organization is pushing for a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for the 76-year-old head of state, on account of his efforts to legalize marijuana in the South American country.

"We have come to Uruguay to ask for [Mujica's] permission to campaign on his behalf," said Frans Bronkhorst of the Drug Peace Institute.

"We believe that he has made a proposal…that aims to end this [global] drug war, which has done nothing but serve the interests of obscure parties," Bronkhorst told Uruguayan newspaper El Observador in an interview published on March 13th.

In mid 2012, Mujica promoted a bill that would legalize the consumption of Marijuana in Uruguay, and regulate the production and sale of the plant.

The proposal, known to Uruguayans as the marijuana law, was tabled by Mujica at the end of last year after polls showed that most Uruguayans did not approve of legalizing marijuana. Regardless, Mujica continues to support the marijuana law, and it could be approved later this year if congressmen in Uruguay garner more public support for the initiative.

The Uruguayan president has not yet made any statements about the Nobel campaign proposal presented to his advisers by the Drug Peace Institute.

Bronkhorst said that his organization would gather "the voices of victims of the drug war" in its campaign to get a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for Mujica. He said organizations that campaign against prohibitionist drug policies currently lack a global symbol or a famous spokesman, and added that Mujica could fill this void. "He could be the Bob Marley of the 21st century," Bronkhorst joked with El Observador.

Every year in September, the Nobel Peace Prize committee sends out nomination ballots to some 300 academics, former prize winners and government representatives around the world.

To be nominated for the peace prize, Mujica would have to secure the support of one of the people receiving a ballot. Winning the prize is far more difficult, as Mujica would have to defeat hundreds of worthy nominees from all over the world.

Bronkhorst argued that the Uruguayan president was a strong candidate for the peace prize, not just because of his efforts to change drug policy but because of his personal background.

"He is a former [left-wing] guerrilla, who abandoned weapons, and became president through the ballot box in a democratic process," Bronkhorst said.

Mujica currently donates 90 percent of his salary to charitable causes, and leads a simple lifestyle which has earned him the nickname "the world's poorest president."

If he were to win the nobel peace prize, Mujica would become the first person to receive this honor for tackling prohibitionist drug policies.


For more than 40 years, the U.S. government has waged a war on drugs. Unfortunately, there are many issues with that war and its perceived success.

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