Venezuela gave Hugo Chavez a lavish farewell today at a state funeral that brought some of the world's most notorious strongmen to tears, with music, prayers and a fiery speech by his successor.
More than 30 heads of state paid tribute to the leftist firebrand president as his body lay in state in a flag-covered coffin at a military academy, bringing the curtain down on a 14-year reign that divided his nation.
"There you are, undefeated, pure, transparent, unique, true, alive forever," his political heir, Nicolas Maduro, said in a 30-minute tribute that both praised his mentor and railed against the "insults" of his opponents.
"Mission accomplished comandante! The struggle goes on," said Maduro, the vice president due to be sworn in as acting president later today.
But the opposition will boycott the inauguration, setting the stage for a bitter election campaign, five months after Chavez defeated a stronger challenger than usual, Henrique Capriles, who will likely face Maduro this time.
Lawmaker Angel Medina of the Democratic Union Roundtable, an umbrella grouping of opposition parties, branded the hasty swearing-in "another electoral act and a violation of the Venezuelan constitutional order."
Venezuela is giving Chavez a long farewell, with hundreds of thousands of people filing past his open casket nonstop since Wednesday. Some fainted from the heat, many spent the night outside to see the man who became a hero of the poor with oil-funded social programmes.
Venezuelan conductor and Los Angeles Philharmonic maestro Gustavo Dudamel led an orchestra's rendition of the national anthem to open the state funeral.
Maduro placed a replica of the golden sword of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar on his mentor's wooden casket and then handed it to his family at the end of the funeral.
Presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus sat next to each other, wiping away tears as a band played one of Chavez's favorite sentimental songs, typical from his native land.
Several Latin American leaders, including Cuban President Raul Castro, were invited to stand around the coffin, which was closed and covered in the yellow, blue and red colours of Venezuela, in an honour guard.
Venezuela Gives Chavez a Lavish Farewell
THE LATEST ISSUE
- ‘Need To Look At Every Aspect That Caused Defeat’: Sonia Gandhi To Congress On Poll Results
- ‘His Dream Has Come True,’ Says Himanta Biswa Sarma’s Wife
- Why High Antibody Doesn’t Guarantee Protection From Covid-19?
- In A First, An Independent Candidate In Tamil Nadu Releases Election Expenses
- Game Over, Or Halftime? Mamata Faces Full-Blown Tussle With BJP
- Born April 18, Died April 20: The Spectacular Fall Of European Super League And Its Aftermath
- India In England: Prithvi Shaw Unlucky, Hardik Pandya Needs To Prove All-rounder Credentials
- Online Real Money Gaming: Why Present Is Imperfect And Future Is Tense
- For IPL Organisers, Loss Of Revenue Seems More Important Than Loss Of Lives Due To COVID
- Why Should Boys Have All The Fun? Sports For One And All!
- Why Virat Kohli Is Right And ICC Wrong: A Philosopher Looks At DRS
- India Sees Dip In Covid Daily Count: Records 3,66,161 Cases, 3,754 Deaths
- Fact Check: Can You Get Covid Even After Vaccination? Govt Clarifies
- Covid: What’s Fatal Black Fungus Infection?
- 34 AMU Professors Succumb To Covid In Last 18 Days
- RSS- BJP Tussle Behind Kerala Poll Drubbing?
- M.K. Stalin: The Prince Who Finally Became King
- Dramatic Draw Not Enough To Keep Title In Real's Hands
- BCCI Will Be Ultra-cautious For T20 World Cup: Jimmy Neesham