World

Uruguay's austere president urges leaders to fight 'culture of waste' growing in poor nations

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, left, speaks as Uruguay's President Jose Mujica listens to him, during the G77 + China Summit in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Sunday, June 15, 2014. (AP Photo)

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, left, speaks as Uruguay's President Jose Mujica listens to him, during the G77 + China Summit in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Sunday, June 15, 2014. (AP Photo)  (The Associated Press)

Uruguay's austere president is urging world leaders to fight a "culture of waste" in which poor nations try to emulate richer countries rather than live in balance with the environment.

Speaking in Bolivia on Sunday to a summit of the Group of 77 and China, Jose Mujica calls the growth in consumerism "a trap" that will produce material gain at the cost of human development.

Mujica is a former guerrilla leader and he has won attention for his no-frills lifestyle as Uruguay's president, including driving an old Volkswagen Beetle and living on a simple flower farm.

Opposition leaders in Bolivia have criticized the summit of representatives from 128 nations as a waste of money. President Evo Morales defends the meeting, saying will help promote Bolivia and its social reforms.