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.