CARACAS -- A pair of Russian-made fighter jets roared overhead and soldiers marched in formation carrying new Kalashnikov rifles yesterday as Venezuela marked its Independence Day by showcasing recent arms deals that have alarmed Washington.
President Hugo Chavez addressed the troops and thousands of spectators, saying his military is growing stronger despite US attempts to block weapons sales.
``Venezuela is not preparing to invade anybody," Chavez said.
Chavez says his country is preparing to face a possible US invasion, a claim dismissed as ridiculous by American officials, who are often at odds with the leftist leader.
Tanks and jeeps rolled down a major avenue during yesterday's parade, while two recently bought Sukhoi fighter jets swooped and dived in the sky.
The commemorations mark the day Venezuela became the first South American country to declare independence from Spain in 1811. Chavez laid a floral wreath at the tomb of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar, the inspiration for Chavez's Bolivarian Revolution socialist movement.