200 years on, L America still in pursuit of Bolivar's ideals of liberty

19:06, April 20, 2010      

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At zero hour on Monday, colorful, crackling fireworks brightened the night sky of the capital city, as Venezuela kicked off celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the country's independence movement.

A parade of military troops and civilians, men and women, old and young, passed by the National Cemetery of Venezuela.

The Venezuelan people were marking the 200th anniversary of "the fight against the Spanish colonialists for independence and liberty," a movement initiated by Simon Bolivar, widely recognized as a hero and the liberator of Latin America.

To South Americans, April 19 is a memorable day, because exactly 200 years ago, Simon Bolivar, who dedicated his life to the independence of the continent, led the people from the entire region in their struggle to turn South America into a united, solid and free "New World" from Spanish rule.

Along with his fellow warriors, Bolivar declared in his hometown of Caracas on April 19, 1810 the fight for the creation of the "Gran Colombia" republic which comprised today's Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, Guyana, Peru, Brazil and parts of Costa Rica.

Although short-lived, the utopian republic of Gran Colombia represented Bolivar's ideal of gathering all the Latin American nations under one federal administration, as he believed that the Americans came from the same origin, with the same language, the same habits and the same religion and should be united in peace for common prosperity.

"We are not Indians nor Europeans. ... (but are) Americans by birth," Bolivar said two centuries ago.

Two hundred years later, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, waving to troops in a solemn march, said Bolivar's ideal of regional integration has lived on to the present day and that Latin America and the Caribbean will surrender to no one but their own unity and development.

"This fatherland is for the peace!" said Chavez, wearing his habitual red beret and olive green military uniform.

Over the past 200 years, this divided region has suffered from near constant conflicts, armed threats, dictatorships, coups and crises. It has survived and is marching toward the goal of building a region of hope and rapid development, with a promising future.

With the creation of more regional organizations, including the Organization of the American States, the Union of South American Nations and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, Latin America can now deal with regional issues through peaceful dialogue, negotiations, fora and conferences on the basis of more cooperation and less sabre-rattling.

There are still differences among countries and governments and tensions between left-wing political forces and their right-wing rivals. But today, the region is more determined than ever to continue its path toward peace and collaboration and is firm in defense of its own dignity.

At a special session of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said no military or economic power could change a nation's decision of self-liberation.

"I don't know if the reality we live in today is the same as Martin, Bolivar, Sucre and all the others had dreamt of, but I am sure that this (reality) seems closer in comparison with what we had hardly 15 years ago in our continent, and this means we have made a great advance," she said.

Source: Xinhua


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