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    Posted November 14, 2008 by
    Gardner
    Location
    Valparaiso, Chile
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
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    Leonardo Farkas ; CHILE’S LONGSHOT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE GREETED AS HERO IN VALPARASIO

     
    CHILE'S LONGSHOT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE GREETED AS HERO (Nov. 14, 2008) Valparaíso, Chile-Chilean presidential hopeful Leonardo Farkas pulled up to the Catholic University of Valparaiso in a stretch limo greeted by hundreds of cheering and screaming students and over 15 members of the press who eagerly pushed there way to get in close to the Chilean mining tycoon. What looked and felt like hundreds of fans flocking after a rock star, Farkas had to literally push his way into the private meeting room, with the crowd not stopping at anything to get close to the self-made millionaire, including breaking a glass door that got in their way. Known for his charity and outrages tips (he once gave a $1,000 tip to a restraint waiter), Farkas came to Valparaiso, Friday, at the request of the university for a closed-door meeting with a select group of students and faculty of the university. While waiting for Farkas to conclude the private meeting the crowd loudly chanted the same cheer used for popular Presidents, "Se siente, se siente, Farkas por presidente!" One fan even wrote a sign that said, "Uncle Leo, we love you," in English and held it up to the window to be seen by Farkas and those in the meeting room. When the private meeting finished, Farkas entered the main courtyard of the university, stood atop a bench and made short speech directed at the eager students in the crowd. "In order to fulfill your dreams you must work hard to make them a reality," he said. "You will not receive anything free in life. You are the future of this country and the responsibility is yours." He mentioned nothing in regards to his run for president of Chile during the short speech. Farkas may best be most known by his large donation of CP$235 million (US$375,500) to last year's Teletón, the widely publicized television fund drive for Chile's disabled children. He indicated he would give more to this year's event but did not disclose an exact figure. In an interview with the blog, Paula Farkas said he freely gives away money because, "when I was playing the piano in the United States, I had a tip jar. I'm only returning what other people gave to me". Yet when an elderly man offered to sell a cookie to Farkas during the visit, he walked away without saying a word. Farkas returned to Chile a year go after living in the United States for decades in hopes of helping the Chilean people and now to run for president of Chile. A Chilean student present commented on the event. "It seems ridiculous that this many students are so crazy about Farkas running for the president of Chile," she said. "But I can see why. Chileans desperately want a hero." When asked if he thinks his generous financial charity would help him earn votes, he replied, "I didn't come here for votes. I came here because I was invited and I'm a polite guy." Farkas announced his bid for presidency in Santiago during a public concert he funded, inviting KC and the Sunshine Band to play. During the middle of the show he happily entered the stage and announced he will be running in the center-left Concertación political coalition's 2009 open presidential primary. He ended the short speech at the university with encouraging words for the crowd: "Enjoy each and every day like there's no more tomorrow," he said in English. "Now, go and enjoy your lives!" On his way back to his limo, someone managed to take his suit handkerchief out of his suit pocket. Farkas's aid got out of the limo and offered CP$50,000 ($100 US dollars) to have it returned. The man who stole the handkerchief quickly walked to the limo where he received the money after returning the gold colored handkerchief to Farkas. By Wes Kimbell (www.WesKimbell.com) Photo credit http://www.gardnerhamilton.com/

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