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Venezuela begins week of mourning following death of Hugo Chavez

  • A week of mourning began in Venezuela on Wednesday following the death President Hugo Chavez, who passed away at the age of 58 on Tuesday.

    Thousands of people poured onto the streets the capital, Caracas, to pay their respects for the self-proclaimed revolutionary.

    Chavez's coffin set off in a procession to the Military Academy, where he will lie in state until his funeral on Friday.

    Foreign presidents, including Bolivia's Evo Morales, also took part in the procession alongside Chavez's family members, Vice President Nicolas Maduro and other top government officials.

    Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile, Cuba and the Caribbean island nation of Dominica have all declared periods of official mourning.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also announced a day of mourning, describing him as a "martyr".

    Chavez, who was in the post for 14 years, was seriously ill with cancer for more than a year.

    His illness prevented him from taking the oath of office after he won a fourth term in October.

    Maduro will assume the presidency until an election is called within 30 days.

    Maduro will also be the candidate of the governing United Socialist Party (PSUV).

    Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who was defeated by Chavez in the October polls, offered his condolences, saying "we were adversaries, but never enemies".

    Capriles is expected to run against the vice-president.

    Chavez’s government is responsible for implementing several social programs such as universal education and health care.

    However, his critics say poverty and unemployment remains rife despite the nation’s oil wealth.

    Venezuela has declared seven days of mourning with Chavez’s funeral due to take place on Friday.

    Chavez first arrived onto Venezuela's political stage in 1992 to lead a failed military coup.

    After two years in prison, he returned to politics and won the 1998 election.

    He was a fierce critic of U.S. "imperialism" and accused Washington of supporting a failed coup against him in 2002.

    Chavez’s government is responsible for implementing several social programs such as universal education and health care.

    However, his opponents accuse him of dictatorship and mishandling the economy despite the nation’s oil wealth.

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