The President of Uruguay has been nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. According to his advocates, the nomination is largely because of his efforts on cannabis legalization.
Mujica has been working toward cannabis legalization since 2012, insisting that the consumption of marijuana should be protected as a human right. Despite global criticism, in late December Uruguay became the first country in the world to fully legalize the production and sale of cannabis. The new law comes into full effect in early April.
“I’m very thankful to these people for honoring me,” Uruguay’s president responded, as quoted by La Nación Argentine daily. “We are only proposing the right to try another path because the path of repression doesn’t work. We don’t know if we’ll succeed. We ask for support, scientific spirit and to understand that no addiction is a good thing. But our efforts go beyond marijuana - we're taking aim at drug traffic.”
Mujica was a member of an armed political group in the 1960s-70s. After a military coup in 1973, he spent 14 years in prison, including being confined to the bottom of a well for more than two years. In 1985, when democracy was restored, Mujica was freed under an amnesty law. He was Minister of Livestock, Agriculture, and Fisheries from 2005 to 2008 and a senator afterwards.
When he became president, he pledged to give away 90 percent of his monthly salary to charities that benefit poor people and small entrepreneurs. Much to everybody's surprise, the unpretentious leader has also shunned the grandeur of the presidential residence in favor of his humble farmhouse.