MADRID, (AFP) – Congo's president has made an impression on a small town in recession-hit Spain -- after relaxing at its thermal baths for a few days he left local residents 10,000 euros ($13,000).
Denis Sassou Nguesso and his family spent four days at a five-star hotel in the southern town of Carratraca, which is home to around 800 people and is known for its hot springs and thermal baths, local resident Cristina Florido said.
Before leaving the town on Sunday several local residents met with him to say good-bye and the president's wife handed Florido's 84-year-old father Francisco with an envelope containing 10,000 euros.
"My father said the president's wife gave him the envelope and told him it was for the townspeople," Florido told AFP by telephone.
"At the beginning he thought of giving it to the mayor but people did not want it going to the town hall, they wanted it to be shared," she added.
For the past several days Florido and her husband have set up a table at the entrance to their home and distributed the prize among the residents of the town -- 12 euros per person.
Around 70 percent of the town's residents had already collected their cash, she estimated, adding that both she and her father were "overwhelmed" by the stir caused by the Congolese leader's gift.
She was not sure why Sassou Nguesso chose her father to distribute the gift for the town, she said.
"Maybe because he is an older man or because he recognised his face. The president's wife attended Mass the day before, my parents were also there and they greeted each other."
The Republic of Congo, a former French colony, is one of sub-Saharan Africa's main oil producers, though 70 percent of the population lives in poverty.