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Puppets and potatoes for Obama

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A puppet, a book, a letter and even potatoes – these are types of items that Czechs want to give US President Barack Obama.

Idiosyncratic Silesian potato farmer Jiří Pleva from Ostrava-Pustkovice will be awaiting Obama in Prague. Pleva did not hesitate to celebrate with Obama right after his inauguration when he congratulated the US president by a one-line ad in a newspaper that cost him CZK 799. “I am preparing another announcement now, of course,” Pleva said and slowly formulated the text. “Welcome to Prague! The majority of the nation considers you to be a revolutionary politician for the third millenium…”

Pleva also wants to bring two Roma children to Prague since, in his free time, he organises activities for bored Roma school children. “So that they can see with their own eyes that even people with dark complexion can become presidents,” Pleva said. “I will also take a pack of potatoes for Obama to show how well this American crop is doing even in Silesia,” the famous potato farmer said, pointing to a box of Adéla potatoes. He claimed these potatoes are particularly tasty and easily digestible even for children.

Send presents to Washington
Pleva will probably not be able to pass the potatoes to Obama himself. The US embassy announced that for security reasons, no gifts from Czech citizens can be given to the president, with the exception of gifts from selected politicians. “We appreciate it very much and we are pleased with the people’s interest. However, we cannot accept the presents. They can be sent directly to Washington,” the embassy said.

The Czechs are famous improvisers and so they believe that they will somehow manage to hand over the gifts. Jiří Pleva will bring the potatoes, Jaroslav Navrátil from Zlín will bring a puppet he made in Obama’s likeness. A certain man from Vysočina wants to give Obama a book about his region, while other people wish to hand over personal letters.

Czech, Moravian and Silesian people have always enjoyed presenting foreign politicians with gifts. And not only the democratic heads of states were showered in presents but the dictators too. Ostrava miners, for example, gave a present to Adolf Hitler in 1943 on his 54th birthday and the gift was then forever immortalised on the front page of the daily Národní práce. The glossy mining lantern they gave him says: “To Führer – from the grateful miners.” Stalin was the one to get the most presents from the Czechoslovak people. Workers from Kladno once sent him a vase full of steel roses, and workers from a north-Bohemian fat factory sent him a giant soap container.

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