A diehard Colombian fan of US President Barack Obama has turned his home into his version of the White House and hopes to welcome the US president with a gift when Obama attends a summit in nearby Cartagena this weekend.
Silvio Carrasquilla, an Afro-Colombian and a former mayor of Turbaco, says he hopes to present the US 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.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.
Carrasquilla is a fervent admirer of the first US 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 US 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 US 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 colour,” he said.
During the 2008 US presidential election, Carrasquilla organised 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 US president was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, the ex-mayor invited the neighbourhood to a dove release.