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Venezuela marks birthday of late leader Hugo Chavez

CARACAS, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday led nationwide commemorations of what would have been the 60th birthday of the late reformist leader Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan News Agency (AVN) reported.

Maduro visited Sabaneta de Barinas, the birthplace of Chavez in Barinas state, and presided over the inauguration of the Familia Chavez Home Museum, the home-turned-museum where Chavez was born in 1954, the report said.

The museum opened with a photography exhibit on the life of Chavez, whose socialist reforms refocused the government's policies on the majority poor and whose championing of Latin American integration helped strengthen other regional countries, it added.

Before his visit to Sabaneta, Maduro, accompanied by his cabinet and others, visited the Cuartel de la Montana in the capital of Caracas, the military barracks housing Chavez's remains. The ceremony concluded with fireworks and the singing of the birthday song.

Chavez "is going to continue celebrating birthdays ... because the love of the people without doubts maintains Chavez alive, because we are all Chavez, today and forever," Maduro said at the ceremony.

Maduro also thanked Chavez for "allowing us to accompany him in the new struggle for independence and the reclamation of the country."

Regional heads of state and government, and high-level delegations, including Uruguay's President Jose Mujica, were to arrive in Caracas throughout the day to join in the commemoration, he said.

In cities across the country, people marked the day with concerts of Chavez's preferred llanera music, book readings, presentations and other activities, while social networks lit up with messages from admirers.

Chavez governed Venezuela from 1999 until his death on March 5, 2013 after a two-year battle with cancer.

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