Fiery funeral for Venezuela's Chavez
State Department officials have voiced hope that Maduro will prove a more pragmatic leader than the often bombastic Chavez, assuming he wins a full term.
Television cameras captured Hollywood star Sean Penn at the funeral, while the Rev. Jesse Jackson preached rapprochement between his country and Venezuela.
"We pray to God today that you will heal the breach between the U.S. and Venezuela," Jackson said. He later attended Maduro's swearing-in, and was hailed by the acting president as "a good man from the United States."
U.S. enemies such as Castro and Ahmadinejad won loud applause.
"It is a great pain for us because we have lost a friend," Ahmadinejad said upon his arrival at the airport the night before. "I feel like I have lost myself, but I am sure that he still lives. Chavez will never die. His spirit and soul live on in each of our hearts."
Maduro announced Thursday that the government would embalm Chavez's body and put it on permanent display, a decision that touched off strong passions on both sides.
Most of the normally traffic-choked streets of Caracas were empty, with schools and many businesses shuttered. The government also prohibited alcohol sales.
Venezuelans watched the funeral from cafes, with many saying they were flattered to be the subject of the world's attention.
"If my Comandante was such a divisive man who fought with everyone and with other countries, wouldn't he be alone (at his funeral)?" asked Argenis Urbina, a 51-year-old bookseller who was riveted to the coverage on TV.
Others said they were put off by what they saw as an excess of pomp, particularly the plan to put Chavez's body on display.
"He was a president, and I would say not a good one. Not a hero," said Gloria Ocampos, a retired office manager. "He should be buried, just like any other president. They are treating him like he was the father of the country ... It's crazy."
Some 300 people watched the funeral on screens set up in the Simon Bolivar plaza in Chavez's plains hometown of Sabaneta, where mourners had laid out flowers, candles and photos of the late leader.
Chavez was particularly beloved by the poor, whose lot he championed. But critics say he left his successors a monumental task, with annual inflation of more than 20 percent and public debt that quadrupled to more than $100 billion. Crime is endemic and Chavez's chaotic management style has been blamed for a breakdown in infrastructure, particularly in the key oil industry.
In an hour-long television address, Capriles said the opposition had asked to attend Chavez's funeral, but was told "better that you don't come." He said he had withheld criticism since Chavez's death out of respect, but could no longer hold his tongue at what he saw as a power grab by Maduro.
"I tell you clearly, Nicolas, I am not going to speak of the times you lied to the country, shamelessly," Capriles said. "The people have not voted for you, boy."
Associated Press writers E. Eduardo Castillo, Christopher Toothaker and Paul Haven contributed to this report.
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