Venezuela Bids Farewell to Chavez

VP makes point to recognize US delegation at funeral

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Mar 8, 2013 4:15 PM CST

(Newser) – Venezuela's Hugo Chavez was lauded as a modern-day reincarnation of Latin American liberator Simon Bolivar at a fiery, foot-stomping state funeral that at times smacked of a political rally as presidents, princes, and left-wing glitterati looked on. Chavez's hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, eulogized the fallen leader at the Caracas military academy where the funeral was held, his voice booming as he pledged eternal loyalty. "Here we are, Comandante, your men, on their feet," Maduro shouted, government officials rising behind him. "Chavez Lives!" he declared. "Mission Accomplished!"

Throngs watched the ceremony on huge monitors under the blazing sun, while a line to see Chavez's body that stretched more than a mile was halted as the funeral got under way. In the funeral hall, more than 30 political leaders including Cuba's Raul Castro, Spanish Crown Prince Felipe de Borbon, and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood at attention before Chavez's coffin. Despite the blustery language of his speech and the expulsion on Tuesday of two US military attaches on suspicion of spying, Maduro made a point of welcoming the US delegation led by Rep. Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat, and former Rep. William Delahunt, a Democrat from Massachusetts. The Rev. Jesse Jackson also attended.

Women cry as they watch the funeral on a giant screen.   (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto gives his condolences to the mother of Hugo Chavez.   (AP Photo/Presidencia de la Republica de Mexico)
The Rev. Jesse Jackson waves after attending the funeral.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad kisses the coffin.   (AP Photo/Miraflores Press Office)
In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Latin American and Caribbean leaders stand near the coffin.   (AP Photo/Miraflores Press Office)
Venezuela's Nicolas Mduro, center, holds a replica of Simon Bolivar's sword next to the coffin.   (AP Photo/Miraflores Press Office)
Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega waves, accompanied by wife Rosario Murillo, as they stand with Venezuela Foreign Minister Elias Jaua.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Bolivia President Evo Morales gestures as Venezuela Foreign Minister Elias Jaua embraces former Paraguay President Fernando Lugo.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Venezuela Vice President Nicolas Maduro raises his fist as he arrives with Foreign Minister Elias Jaua for the funeral ceremony.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Cuba President Raul Castro salutes as he stands next to the coffin.   (AP Photo/Miraflores Press Office)
A girl dressed in Chavez military fatigues, including his trademark red beret, salutes.   (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
A screen showing a video image of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez plays in front of the site where Chavez's funeral ceremony will take place in Caracas.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Spain's Crown Prince Felipe de Borbon stands behind Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is sitting next to Cuba's President Raul Castro.   (AP Photo/Miraflores Press Office)
People gather around a portrait of Venezuela's independence hero Simon Bolivar outside the military academy where the funeral was held.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
A woman watches on a giant screen.   (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
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