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Peruvian Independence Day

Peruvian Independence Day

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PHOTO GALLERYPeruvian Independence Day Celebration INDUSTRY - One-hundred-eighty-eight years ago today, Peru declared its independence from Spain.

And Hazel Oliveira isn't about to forget it.

The South El Monte resident, who was born in Trujillo, Peru, tugged her family out for a day of Independence Day festivities Sunday at Industry Hills Expo Center.

The day-long celebration, titled "El Peru Viene a Ti," or "Peru comes to you," attracted an estimated 60,000 people from all over Southern California for a slice of life in the South American country.

"This is the second year we are coming here, and it just puts a smile on my face," said Oliveira, who said Peruvian Independence Day plans have been cut in Peru because of swine flu concerns.

"I figure if we can celebrate our heritage here - even millions of miles away - then why not." The festival was hosted by Comite Fiestas Patrias, an organization solely dedicated to putting on the annual event.

"This is important Advertisementbecause it unites the Peruvian community," said Cesar Quijano, an event organizer who was born in Peru's capital, Lima.

"We are pulling together, celebrating our independence together." The festival featured authentic Peruvian food including anticuchos, or skewered beef hearts, and papa a la huancaina, or boiled potatoes topped with sauce.

Several dance troupes also performed for the crowds in the center's Grand Arena.

Karen Menacho's dance group, Matalache, performed a traditional dance called the festejo - which means festival or celebration in Spanish.

The dance represents the African roots that are in Peru, said Menacho, who is black but whose parents were born in Lima.

"There are a lot of African roots in Peru, but a lot of people don't know that," she said.

"The festejo is one of the most popular dances in Peru." Menacho's 17-year-old sister, Teresa, said she likes to perform the traditional dances as a way of connecting with her heritage.

"I want to get close to my culture," she said.

"I am able to do that through dance." [email protected](626) 962-8811, Ext.

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