MONTEVIDEO – Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, whose austere life style seems to fascinate the rest of the world, has received a $1 million offer for his 1987 Volkswagen Beetle, newsweekly Busqueda said Thursday.
The offer was submitted on behalf of an Arab sheik during the June summit of the Group of 77 plus China in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
“It was a bit of a surprise and, initially, I didn’t give it much thought,” Mujica said in the Busqueda story. “But then I got another proposal and I took it more seriously.”
“Anyway, if it comes through, all the money will go to the ‘Together Plan’ or some other thing to benefit Uruguay,” the president said.
The “Together Plan,” which provides assistance for low-income families to build their homes, was a Mujica initiative and he donates most of his presidential salary to the program.
He received a second bid for the car in September during a meeting with foreign diplomats in Montevideo.
That time it was Mexico’s ambassador, Felipe Enriquez, who offered Mujica 10 all-wheel-drive SUVs in exchange for his Beetle, Busqueda said.
Mujica’s famous sky-blue VW is in mint condition and the president is often spotted driving it around Montevideo.
Traveling without an escort, the head of state rolled up to a polling place in the Beetle on Oct. 26 to cast his ballot in Uruguay’s general election. He later drove his wife, Sen. Lucia Topolanski, to another Montevideo precinct.
Mujica valued the car at 70,000 pesos ($2,850) on his most recent financial disclosure statement.