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President Hugo Chavez's final act goes on and on

More than two million Venezuelans have filed past the open casket of their dead president Hugo Chavez in the last two days.

Such is the demand to pay tribute that plans for a burial have been eschewed in favour of a simple ceremony, and the announcement that Chavez's body will be displayed permanently.

ITV News International Editor Bill Neely reports from Caracas:

Jesse Jackson gives sermon at Hugo Chavez funeral

The Reverend Jesse Jackson has given a short sermon at the funeral of Hugo Chavez.

The US civil rights activist paid tribute to Chavez for raising the hopes of the poor and helping them to achieve their dreams.

He also expressed his hope that Venezuela and the US would heal their differences.

Reverend Jesse Jackson giving a sermon at the funeral Credit: Reuters/VTV

Among the guests listening intently to the sermon was the actor and director Sean Penn.

Sean Penn listening to the Reverend Jesse Jackson Credit: Reuters/VTV

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Iranian President kisses Hugo Chavez's coffin

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stopped twice to kiss the coffin of Venezuela's late leader Hugo Chavez during today's funeral.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad kisses the coffin Credit: Reuters/VTV
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures to the other guests at the funeral Credit: Reuters/VTV

World leaders and celebrities attending Chavez funeral

Among some 30 world leaders and other dignitaries attending Hugo Chavez's funeral are the following:

  • President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran
  • President Raul Castro of Cuba
  • President Evo Morales of Bolivia
  • President Rafael Correa of Ecuador
  • President Dilma Rousseff and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil
  • Film actor and director Sean Penn
  • President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus
  • US civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson

About 50 countries have sent delegations, including the US and Canada.

Chavez's home town pays tribute to its famous son

Portraits and flowers set up in the centre of Sabaneta, Barinas State Credit: RTV

Portraits and flowers have been left in the centre of Sabaneta, Barinas State - Hugo Chavez's home town.

Crowds have gathered at the makeshift shrine to pay their respects, the president funeral will happen today after his death at 58 after a two-year battle with cancer.

A supporter raises his fist in salute before the Credit: RTV
Crowds gathered in the centre of Sabaneta Credit: RTV

Huge crowds gather in Caracas ahead of Hugo Chavez funeral

A massive crowd has gathered outside the Military Academy where the body of Hugo Chavez has lain in state since his death Credit: RTV

Huge crowds gathered again outside the Military Academy where the body of Hugo Chavez has lain in state since his death.

His funeral is due to start shortly.

Yesterday dozens were injured in the crush to view the president's body.

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Ahmadinejad praises 'dear friend' Hugo Chavez ahead of funeral

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arriving in Caracas for the funeral of Hugo Chavez Credit: RTV

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has arrived in Caracas for funeral of ally and 'close friend' President Hugo Chavez.

Speaking to reporters President Ahmadinejad said;

"He was a dear friend to all the countries of the world. To us, President's Chavez loss is very painful because we've lost a friend, a close friend and a revolutionary and just leader. To me, he had a big personality and a very close friend and brother. I feel like I lost myself."

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez pictured together during a previous trip to Caracas Credit: RTV

"He was a great man with very big, humane dreams. I express my solidarity with the people of Venezuela, with all of the people of Latin America and with all the countries of the world. And we promise to realize and materialize his ideas which were so valuable.

"I am certain God will help us and the spirit of President Chavez will be watching us and will help us from the heavens."

Venezuelans bid personal farewell to Hugo Chavez

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans joined the crush to view Hugo Chavez's body lying in state in the capital Caracus today.

Responding to the overwhelming demand, and the desire that Chavez should be "always be with the people", it was announced tonight that the leader will remain on display permanently.

ITV News International Editor Bill Neely reports from Caracas:

Hugo Chavez' body to be permanently on display

Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro has just announced on national TV that Hugo Chavez's funeral will take place tomorrow morning.

Around 30 heads of state are expected to attend along with delegations from 50 countries.

Maduro also said that Chavez's body will return to lying in state for public viewing for seven further days after the funeral to allow more people to see him.

Chavez's body will then be preserved like that of Lenin and Mao Zedong so "he will always be with the people". A special tomb is now under construction in the mountains where he launched his revolution.

Maduro again called for calm and thanked the public for respecting the solemnity of the occasion.

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