Thousands pay tribute to Venezuela′s Chavez | News | DW | 08.03.2013
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Thousands pay tribute to Venezuela's Chavez

World leaders gathered in Caracas to join throngs of mourners at a state funeral for Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. After the funeral, Vice President Nicolas Maduro was set to be sworn in as acting president.

The state funeral for the late President Hugo Chavez took place on Friday in the capital Caracas. Chavez, who ruled Venezuela for 14 years, died on Tuesday, aged 58, after losing a battle to cancer.

The ceremony drew world leaders, athletes and left-wing celebrities, along with throngs of Chavez supporters.

In a 30-minute speech, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's political heir, said, "There you are, undefeated, pure, transparent, unique, true, alive forever."

"Mission accomplished comandante! The struggle goes on," said Maduro, who is due to be sworn in as acting president later Friday.

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Chavez sent off with lavish state funeral

Some 30 heads of state attended the funeral, including most Latin American leaders, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Cuba's Raul Castro and Prince Felipe of Spain.

The United States, a country which Chavez often portrayed as a great global foe, has sent Rep. Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat, and former Rep. William Delahunt, a Democrat from Massachusetts, to attend the funeral.

Maduro to be sworn in

After the ceremony, Vice President Nicolas Maduro was due to be sworn in as interim president, as Chavez desired, with fresh elections expected to be called within 30 days.

Maduro has been acting as interim president since Chavez passed away on Tuesday, even though the constitution stipulates that the speaker of the National Assembly - currently Diosdado Cabello - should assume the role.

Although Chavez had won a fourth term in mid-October, he was never sworn in due to health issues. However, the country's Supreme Court had upheld his legitimacy as head of government, delaying the January inauguration until his health improved.

Chavez to remain on display

Vice President Maduro announced Thursday that the viewing period for the late president will be extended by one week in order to accommodate the millions still expected. Following this time, the ex-leader will be embalmed.

"We have decided to prepare the body of our 'Comandante President,' to embalm it so that it remains open for all time for the people. Just like Ho Chi Minh. Just like Lenin. Just like Mao Zedong," Maduro said.

The news of the long-time leader's death has unleashed a massive outpouring of emotion. On Wednesday, a sea of people clad in red shirts accompanied a procession that transported Chavez's body from the military hospital in Caracas to a military academy.

hc/dr (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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