CARACAS — Many in the press may have snickered at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's attendance of Hugo Chavez's funeral. But in Venezuela, the people cheered.
In Caracas on Friday, throngs of Venezuelans gathered to pay their respects to their fallen leader, who died this week at 58. Dignitaries joined the leftist honor guard alongside Chavez's casket; when Ahmadinejad stepped in line, the crowd went wild.
Raul Castro was also a crowd favorite. Spain's Prince Felipe, however, was booed. More than 30 heads of state attended the funeral.
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Chavez and Ahmadinejad, brothers in their extreme criticism of the US, had a very close public relationship. Iran held a national day of mourning for Chavez on Wednesday — the same day Ahmadinejad predicted a sacred return for the Latin American strongman's ghost.
“I have no doubt he will come again along with all the righteous people and the Prophet Jesus and the only successor of the righteous generation, the perfect human,” Ahmadinejad said in a statement released in Persian on the president's official website Wednesday, The New York Times reported.
On Friday, senior Muslim clerics in Iran criticized Ahmadinejad for the comments, which they described as inappropriate.
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