Venezuela commemorates bicentenary of the independence struggle with patriotic event

• Raúl attends 9th ALBA Summit and commemorative events in Caracas
Jorge Martín Blandino
CARACAS, April 19.—The 9th Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), which ended last night in a Teresa Carreño Theater filled with thousands of Venezuelans, was an excellent culmination of the celebrations for the bicentenary of the beginning of the independence struggle in this country. It was a beautiful event that had this capital vibrating with patriotic fervor, solidarity and overwhelming demonstrations of support for the Bolivarian Revolution.

President Hugo Chávez introduced the ALBA leaders to the audience, giving them and their peoples “Vivas!” together with the enthusiastic public. On various occasions, he quoted statements by Fidel in reference to Latin America and the Caribbean.
The first speaker was President Evo Morales of Bolivia, who referred to the struggles of the indigenous peoples, the upcoming Mother Earth Summit in his country and the need to promote popular participation in that great battle.
Then Chávez asked President Raúl Castro to speak. The Cuban president expressed his emotions at being in Venezuela this 19th of April and celebrating the bicentenary of the independence struggle.
On behalf of Cuba and Fidel, he transmitted their congratulations on this memorable date and highlighted Bolívar’s role in the emancipation of the American peoples. He referred to ALBA as a new kind of integrationist organization which is continuing to advance, its results in training human resources, above all in health and education, and its contributions to achieving energy independence and other important tasks.
He recalled the Cuban victory of Playa Girón [Bay of Pigs] on April 19, 1961 when, in barely 72 hours, under the direct leadership of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, the Revolutionary Armed Forces and Revolutionary National Militia units defeated the invasion organized by the U.S. government. He added that that aggression was also accompanied by a large media disinformation campaign, like the current anti-Cuba press campaign.

He affirmed that the Cuban Revolution will not be defeated via the blockade or by lies, and neither will the peoples of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and other ALBA nations. He spoke of the recent coup d’état in Honduras and the need to be on the alert. He congratulated the Venezuelan people on the beautiful parade of the morning. “We only have one alternative: to unite, fight and overcome,” he stated, and concluded by giving “Vivas!” to Venezuela, Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution.
The next speaker was President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, who congratulated the Venezuelan people on the beautiful fiesta and expressed his gratitude at being able to witness it.
Between Cuban and Venezuelan songs chanted by the audience, Chávez spoke of the significant achievements of the ALBA countries in the social and economic spheres, as well as the wide-ranging prospects ahead. He emphasized the importance of our countries remaining united and mutually supporting each other via diverse integration mechanisms that are emerging. In this context, he warned of the need for political decisions to be put into practice and not be delayed by technical details.
He expressed his appreciation of Fidel’s “Reflections on Venezuela” and read out extracts referring to the reach of the Bolivarian struggles and his congratulations on the bicentenary of the beginning of the independence struggle.
Other speakers were Ralph Gonsalves, Baldwin Spencer and Roosevelt Skerrit, the prime ministers of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica, respectively, and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
The ALBA heads of state and government finally approved the Bicentennial Manifesto of Caracas: Consolidating the New Independence.
TRIBUTE TO THE LIBERATOR
Early in the morning, the ALBA leaders, Argentine President Cristina Fernández and Prime Minister Leonel Fernández, together with other heads of delegations invited to the bicentenary commemoration, arrived at the National Pantheon to pay tribute to the liberator, Simón Bolívar.

At the entrance to the building, the most respected in Venezuela, they were received by President Hugo Chávez Frías, accompanied by Vice President Elías Jaua. Inside, a march was played by the Symphonic Orchestra and the leaders gathered in front of the sarcophagus holding the remains of the Venezuelan liberator and, after a rendition of the Venezuelan national anthem, placed wreaths there in his honor.
President Chávez talked briefly with his distinguished guest on the historical significance of the event being celebrated and the figure of Simón Bolívar.
 
 
IMPRESSIVE CIVILIAN-MILITARY PARADE
The invited delegations then moved on to the Paseo de los Próceres, where the people of Caracas had been waiting from the early hours to watch the grand joint civilian and military parade in honor of the bicentenary. The sun returned to Caracas today to contribute to the celebration.
Division General Celso Canelones asked President Chávez’ permission to begin the parade, made up of 12,000 combatants from the Bolivarian National Armed Forces and an ample presence of Venezuelans from all over the country, representing the nation’s diverse cultural manifestations.
Authorizing the beginning of the ceremony, Chávez greeted the people of Venezuela and recalled that José Martí called Caracas the “cradle of America.” He thanked the large number of leaders and other delegations for their participation, and affirmed that the united Venezuela of workers, campesinos, students and soldiers would never again be a colony of anyone.
Bolivarian athletes, with a large national flag, were in charge of initiating the parade. They were followed by an extraordinary extravagance of music, joy and color from 30 popular artistic groups displaying a wide range of the customs of the peoples of this great South American nation, from its original inhabitants to the vibrant folkdances of the plains.
Also present on the boulevard were doctors from Battalion 150, workers from the national oil company PDVSA and the metallurgy industry (SIDOR), Bolivarian militias, workers, campesinos and students.
Then began the parade of the regular troops and the different schools and academies of the Bolivarian Armed Forces, men and women in colorful uniforms – current ones and those symbolizing the combatants of the independence struggle – and a block of units invited from friendly countries, including a representation of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces made up of 22 cadets from six military institutions on the island.
The tanks, armored cars, artillery and antiaircraft rockets passed by. And when it seemed that there was no more space for new emotions, modern combat aircraft flew overhead and an impressive cavalry rode past the platforms at full gallop, as a symbol of this heroic people’s continued fight for freedom and independence with the same revolutionary fervor as their national heroes.
SOLEMN SESSION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 
With the emotions of a luminous and patriotic morning still present, the ALBA leaders moved on to the Legislative Federal Palace facing the capital’s Plaza Bolívar.
There, they were received by Cilia Flores, president of the National Assembly, and the principal parliamentary authorities, to the beat of energetic drumming by popular musicians.

Raúl was received with a special ovation, greetings to Fidel, and a recalling of the Bay of Pigs victory.
The solemn session took place in the Protocol Hemisphere, reserved for celebrations with special historical significance.
After the national anthem and the greetings of the Assembly president, historian

Pedro Calzadilla gave an outline of the events of two centuries ago and compared them with the decisive moment that Venezuela and all of Latin America is experiencing today.
After the Argentine national anthem, President Cristina Fernández addressed the session as the main speaker for this solemn occasion, who expressed her gratitude at the exceptional privilege. She spoke of the significance of the year 1810 in Latin American history, emphasized the universal value of concepts such as liberty, justice and equality among human beings and how much our peoples have advanced since the commemoration of the first centenary and this second one.

Translated by Granma International

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