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Hugo Chavez funeral: Venezuela says goodbye

March 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Venezuela said goodbye to President Hugo Chavez in an emotional funeral Friday that included folk songs, a soaring choir and the brandishing of a symbolic sword.

Leaders from five continents were on hand for the ceremony. Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York and former Rep. William Delahunt of Massachusetts represented the U.S.

Venezuela's national youth orchestra sang the national anthem, led by famed conductor Gustavo Dudamel, and then a government-allied congressman later belted out cowboy songs from Chavez's native Barinas state.

The day ended with the swearing-in of Chavez's hand-picked successor, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, as interim president.

Chavez often portrayed the United States as a great global evil. In a fiery speech during the funeral, Maduro reached out to the U.S.

"We love all the people of our America, but we want relations of respect, of cooperation, of true peace," Maduro said. "We want ... a world without empires, without hegemonic nations, a world of peace that respects international law."

Chavez died Tuesday after a nearly two year bout with cancer. The government plans to embalm Chavez's body and put it on permanent display.

The constitution says elections must be held within 30 days of Chavez's death, but the government has not set a date yet. Maduro has announced he will be the candidate of Chavez's ruling socialist party against likely opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.