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                                        Volume. 12142

World leaders attend Chavez funeral
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_01_cahvez2.jpgWorld leaders joined millions of mourners at a state funeral for Venezuela's Hugo Chavez on Friday, as the nation eyes life without him with the formal swearing-in of his political heir.
 
Venezuela gave a lavish farewell to the popular leader, with millions of people filing past his open casket nonstop since Wednesday to say goodbye to the man who was worshipped by the oil-rich nation's poor.
 
Foreign Minister Elias Jaua and a crowd of flag-waving Chavez supporters greeted leaders who began to arrive at the military academy for the funeral, started at 11:00 a.m. (1530 GMT) on Friday.
 
In the evening Nicolas Maduro, who was Chavez's vice president, was to be named acting president and elections were expected to be called within 30 days.
 
Most Latin American leaders were attending the funeral, as well as many other leaders, including Cuba's Raul Castro, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko.
 
Chavez's mother, Elena Frias, raised her arms toward the cheering crowd, crying and wiping her tears with a white handkerchief.
 
Ahmadinejad again expressed his condolences after he landed early on Friday, saying "Chavez will never die, his soul and spirit are alive in the hearts of fighters."
 
Leaders from Africa and the Caribbean were attending the funeral but European nations sent lower-level delegations while the United States will be represented by its charge d'affaires and two Democratic Party politicians.
 
The former paratrooper, who died on Tuesday at age 58 after a long battle with cancer, will lie in state an extra seven days to allow him to be viewed by everybody who wants to.
 
He will then be embalmed "like Ho Chi Minh, Lenin and Mao" and kept in a glass casket "for eternity," Maduro said Thursday.
 
Maduro said the body will be taken to the "Mountain Barracks" in the January 23 slum that was a bastion of Chavez support, a facility that is now being converted into a Museum of the Revolution.
 
It was there that Chavez had spearheaded what proved to be a failed coup against then-President Carlos Andres Perez on February 4, 1992. His arrest turned him into a hero, leading to his first of many election victories in 1998.
 
But Maduro suggested that Chavez may one day be moved elsewhere, a nod to popular pressure for him to be taken to the national pantheon to lie alongside Latin American independence hero Simon Bolivar.
 
The government said more than two million people had come since Wednesday to get a glimpse of their hero, whose petrodollar-fueled socialism earned him friends and foes at home and abroad. Many stood in line through the night.

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Last Updated on 08 March 2013 18:22