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Latin American leaders to pay last respects to Chavez

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CARACAS, March 7 – All Latin American leaders expressed their deep sorrow over the death of President Hugo Chavez, and several of them will be travelling to Caracas for his funeral scheduled Friday.  Argentine president Cristina Fernandez suspended all official activities, declared three days of mourning and will be flying to Caracas for the funeral.

Cristina Fernández decided to leave Wednesday morning in the Tango 01 presidential plane along with her Uruguayan counterpart José “Pepe” Mujica, Planning Minister Julio de Vido and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman.  Likewise Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff cancelled this week’s visit to Argentina and is planning to travel to Caracas for the funeral of Chavez.

During an official ceremony Rousseff said that “in many occasions the Brazilian government did not fully concord with President Chavez”, but “today and as always we acknowledge him as a great leader, and an irreparable loss, and above all a loyal friend of Brazil and of its people”.

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The Brazilian leader said she regretted the loss “not only as president but also as a person for which I had great affection.”  Former president Lula da Silva also expressed ‘deep sorrow” over the death of President Chavez and in “this very sad day, all my solidarity with the Venezuelan people”.

A poster of Venezuelan President Chavez attached with a picture of Jesus Christ, is seen during a rally in CaracasUruguayan president Jose Mujica also expressed his deep pain over the loss of ‘companion-commander’ Chavez and trusted the Venezuelan people and its government would continue to ‘strengthen democracy” of which the deceased leader was a “great builder”.

Bolivia’s Evo Morales who had special admiration for Chavez left Tuesday night for Caracas and decreed a full week of mourning and flags at half mast.

“Undoubtedly we had our differences, but I always admired the strength and commitment with which president Chavez battled for his ideas. He was a man profoundly committed to the integration of Latinamerica”, said Chilean president
Sebastian Piñera.

From Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto expressed his “deep condolence” over the loss of President Chavez. “My feelings are with his family and with the Venezuelan people, and for Venezuela to continue along the path of democracy”.
Peruvian president Ollanta Humala sent to the Venezuelan people “Bolivarian, South American and Latinamerican solidarity” and wished that in such difficult moments, “unity and reflection will prevail in such a way that things can go
ahead peacefully and along the democratic track”.

From El Salvador president Mauricio Funes said Venezuela has not only lost a president, but a patriot, a man who transformed his country and “ruled for the people, changing the inequality and exclusion that prevailed in the country before he was elected to office”.

Finally the Organisation of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza expressed condolences to the government and people of Venezuela regretting the sad news of the death of President Chavez.

“In a moment of such pain and sorrow for the Venezuelan people, we are next to you together with the rest of the peoples of the Americas”, said the OAS release. OAS flags will fly at half mast and there will be an extraordinary meeting of the Permanent Council to the memory of President Chavez.

BERNAMA