A diehard Colombian fan of Barack Obama has turned his home into his version of the White House and hopes to welcome the U.S. president with a gift when Obama attends a summit in nearby Cartagena this weekend.
Silvio Carrasquilla, an Afro-Colombian and a former mayor of the northern town of Turbaco, says he hopes to present the U.S. leader with a young donkey named "Demo." The donkey is the symbol of Obama's Democratic Party.
Demo "has already been given all its vaccinations and is small enough to fit in Air Force One," the ex-mayor said Thursday.
Obama was due in Colombia's Caribbean resort city of Cartagena Friday with 32 fellow leaders of the Western Hemisphere for a summit focused on regional integration, the drug scourge and issues surrounding Cuba and Argentina's claim on the British-ruled Falklands.
Carrasquilla made headlines in 2004 when at the age of 23 he became the country's youngest mayor to lead the city of 70,000 people with a large Afro-Colombian community.
This son of an elected municipal official is a fervent admirer of the first U.S. black president, whom he describes as "a source of hope to all our brothers."
This week, Carrasquilla, behind the Star and Stripes, led dozens of Turbaco residents on a donkey ride across town.
Many of the locals started to believe that a visit by the U.S. leader was imminent. Various gifts, books and paintings have been prepared for him.
Inside his residence, which was repainted in white when Obama was elected in 2008, Carrasquilla proudly shows off his own "Oval Office," complete with a desk with the Great Seal of the United States and a huge portrait of the Obama family.
Donning an Uncle Sam hat, Carrasquilla draped a row of U.S. and Colombian flags on his house's balcony, above giant portraits of Obama and a banner proclaiming "Welcome to Turbaco, Obama."
"He (Obama) is an example. He defied the odds by running for the leadership of the world's most powerful country. He had no power, no money nor the right color," he told Agence France Presse.
During the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Carrasquilla organized his own vote in front of his "White House" where a polling booth containing more than 1,400 ballots for Obama has been preserved.
And when the U.S. president was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, the ex-mayor invited the neighborhood to a dove release.
Carrasquilla gained further notoriety by taking part in a television reality show and by breaking into a singing career with a hit song called "Obama."
His proud mother said her son had already succeeded in getting residents to "open their hearts to Obama" although some say they object to Carrasquilla's tribute to "U.S. imperialism."
"Every day I am being asked when the president will come. Some even think he will land on Air Force One on the square outside our house," the 57-yesar-old former social worker added with a smile.
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