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Venezuela marks 200 years of independence

Updated: 2011-07-07 07:58

By Li Lianxing (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Thousands of people gathered to watch a military and civilian parade in Caracas on Tuesday, and celebrations were held across the country as Venezuela marked the 200th anniversary of its independence from Spain.

After returning suddenly from Cuba, President Hugo Chavez was the notable absentee from Venezuela's bicentennial parade on Tuesday, as he recovered from surgery.

But Chavez, 56, didn't completely miss out on the celebrations, telling Venezuelans in a video message that he was with them "in body and soul".

Delegations from 21 countries participated in the parade, including a contingent from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA).

This is the third time the PLA has participated in a foreign celebration parade.

The first was to mark the bicentenary of Mexican independence in Mexico City last September, and the other was in Rome for the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Italian Republic in June.

"This is a very good opportunity to send a message of peace and friendship from China," Zhang Hongjie, the flag bearer of the PLA contingent, told China Daily.

"It also will give a chance to enhance mutual understanding between China and Venezuela."

The 22 soldiers in the contingent, dressed in green, white and blue ceremonial PLA uniforms, were carefully selected and trained for at least two years.

Zhang, who also attended the Mexican and Italian parades, said: "Normally before our departure, we have no certain information about venue of the parade, the tempo of the music and other special conditions".

Venezuela's war to end Spanish colonial rule started in 1810. Venezuelan independence was declared on July 5, 1811, marking the founding of the Republic of Venezuela.

AFP and Xinhua contributed to this story.


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