Meet Rio de Janeiro’s Barack Obama

The news here in Brazil today, as in the rest of the world, is largely focused on the ongoing tragedy in Japan. But the one story still generating lots of news coverage is Obama’s upcoming visit to Brasilia and Rio. Here’s my personal favorite:

Rinaldo Gaudencio Americo was at a newsstand during the last US presidential campaign, when a stranger noticed a photo of Barack Obama and said, “you look good in that photo.” Americo says he replied, “Don’t forget to vote for me.” With that a star was born. (You can see the video here.) Americo, who earns a living as a driver, has spent the last two years cultivating the resemblance.

He works out daily to stay in presidential form, instructs his barber to match Obama’s close-cropped cut, and scans news photos and television appearances to match the president’s clothing and gestures. He’s appeared in Carnival parades, and even traveled to Canada with a dance show. Before discovering this hidden talent, Americo had never worn a suit. Now he can hold forth on Obama’s preferred neckties.

Reporters asked his wife what she thinks of it all. She laughed and said, “He’s a great husband. So we have to adjust to the way he his…We laugh at everything he invents.”