Manuela the three-legged dog and two police officers make an unlikely security team, but this is the team that José Mujica – president of Uruguay – has selected.

They stand outside his farmhouse in the rural outskirts of the capital, Montevideo, where he lives a simple life with his wife Lucía, having rejected the presidential palaces of la Residencia de Suárez after his election in 2009. Instead of making his home there, the president offers that luxurious space to homeless families during colder months.

“I may appear an eccentric old man,” he said in an interview last year, “but do allow me ...


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