CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stayed home in his presidential palace Tuesday while thousands of troops across town marched to mark the country's bicentennial.
Chavez addressed the troops on live television at the start of the parade, standing beside military commanders at the presidential palace. He said he was glad to be back after undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in Cuba.
"Here I am, in recuperation but still recovering. We've begun another long march," Chavez said.
Gen. Cliver Alcala, a close ally of Chavez, stood at attention and addressed the president from atop a tank. "We will get out of the abyss together with you."
The president saluted and then spoke for about 12 minutes under a portrait of 19th-century independence hero Simon Bolivar, for whom his socialist-inspired Bolivarian Revolution movement is named.
Russian-made fighter jets thundered over the parade ground outside the country's largest military base, and troops marched in colonial-era uniforms. The parade marked the 200th anniversary of Venezuela's declaration of independence from Spain.