Tags: tanks | planes | Chavez | Russia

Show of Chinese and Russian Fighter Planes Hails Venezuela's Chavez

Tuesday, 20 April 2010 09:12 PM

CARACAS - Chinese and Russian-made fighter jets blasted through the skies, shaking the dilapidated buildings of Caracas as they passed.

Tanks and troops paraded through the streets and special forces troops shouted in unison: “I’m an anti-imperialist socialist!”

The capital was draped in red as thousands of military personnel, dancers and supporters hailed Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan President.

Allies from across the region flew in to attend the celebrations — the Cuban leader Raúl Castro, Evo Morales of Bolivia and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega were among those flanking Mr Chávez who, dressed in his trademark red beret and military uniform, paid tribute to Simón Bolívar, the Latin American freedom fighter, whose spirit he frequently invokes in support of his Bolivarian Revolution.

This week marked the 200th anniversary of Venezuela’s rebellion against the Spanish empire. Yet the display of military might was less about celebrating the past than raising the possibility of a future battle — this time against the US.

“Civilians and soldiers united, the people and its armed forces guaranteeing the independence of Venezuela!” Mr Chávez declared. “Never again will Venezuela be a Yankee colony nor a colony of anyone. The moment has arrived to reach our true sovereignty and independence.”

Mr Chávez often refers to the threat of the US which, he claims, wants to topple him and take control of his country’s oil reserves.

To defend Venezuela he has built alliances with Cuba, Iran, Russia and China — he recently signed a $5 billion (£3 billion) arms deal with Moscow. Such alliances have rattled Washington, which imposed an arms embargo against the Chávez Government in 2006 and which has accused him of starting a regional arms race.

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Tuesday, 20 April 2010 09:12 PM
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