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Bolivar image in Brazilian carnival rejected

Opposition activists Wednesday demonstrated outside the Brazilian Embassy in Caracas to reject the use of independence hero Simón Bolívar's image to decorate an allegorical parade float in upcoming Rio de Janeiro carnival, sponsored by state oil holding Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (Pdvsa,) DPA reported.

Despite steady rains, some 120 people demonstrated outside the diplomatic premises, in La Castellana, northeast Caracas, to call for respect for Venezuelan history and Bolívar's almost sacred figure.

Demonstrators also rebutted the fact that Pdvsa funded samba school Vila Isabel, which ordered construction of a 42-foot high statue of Bolívar in gypsum. They are to use this figure during carnival parades in Rio de Janeiro.

Political leader Iván Ballesteros claimed that members of diverse opposition groups participated in the demonstration. They told Brazilian diplomats that the use of Bolívar's image for such intended purposes was inappropriate.

Pdvsa granted USD 450,000 to Vila Isabel samba school to fund the group's carnival parade this year, DPA reported. But the use of Bolívar's image was made known only a few days ago.

Chávez expected in Rio
Brazilian media had reported that Wilson Vieira Alves, the head of samba school Unidos de Vila Isabel, hired an expert firm to take care of diplomatic tasks related to the potential visit of the presidents of Venezuela, Argentina and Chile, among others, to the 2006 Rio de Janeiro Carnival.
While in Venezuela President Chávez' attendance has not been confirmed, his visit was taken for granted in Brazil.

In Venezuela, Civil Protection anticipates 11 million tourists during Carnival
As estimated by Civil Protection (PC) National Head Office, about 11,566,883 people are to travel nationwide next Carnival.

PC National Director Antonio Rivero expects a growing number of travelers by 11 percent, as compared to 10,420,615 people last year.

Also, Rivero explained that 74,534 officials would be deployed across the nation as part of the operations conducted during the holydays.

PC officials, volunteers, state and regional police officers, the army, fire brigades, the National Parks' Institute, the Ministry of the Environment, and the Land Transit Directorate, among others, will take part in the taskforce.

The human contingent will be backed with 1,816 vehicles, including ambulances, rescue vans, trucks, motormen and checkpoints to take care of travelers, both in the roads and tourist sites.