Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad set off for Venezuela on March 7, 2013, to pay tribute to his late Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has arrived in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, to take part in the funeral ceremony of Venezuela’s late leader Hugo Chavez.
The Iranian president is accompanied by his top adviser Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, Vice President for Executive Affairs Seyyed Hassan Mousavi, Vice President for Parliamentary Affairs Mohammad-Reza Mir-Tajeddini and acting Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Asadollah Abbasi.
In his message of condolence to the Venezuelan government on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad called Chavez a “martyr [who lost his life] in the path of serving the Venezuelan people and preserving human and revolutionary values.”
The Iranian government also declared one day of national mourning for the death of the late Venezuelan leader.
Heads of state from some 55 countries are scheduled to take part in Chavez’s funeral.
More than two million mourners have already filed past Chavez’s body at a military academy in Caracas, where he is lying in state.
Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who is due to be sworn in as acting president on Friday, has declared seven additional days of mourning.
The South American nation has already been in a seven-day mourning in the wake of the death of Chavez, who passed away on Tuesday after a long battle with cancer.
Maduro also said after the funeral, Chavez’s body will be embalmed "like Lenin", the Russian revolutionary leader, and put on display "for eternity" at a military museum.
Chavez became involved in revolutionary movements within the armed forces in 1977.
In 1992, he led a failed attempt to overthrow the government of President Carlos Andres Perez and was jailed for two years. Despite the fact that the coup failed, the incident launched his political career.
Chavez toured the country, electrified Venezuelans with his speeches, and won his first presidential election in 1998. He also won presidential elections in 2000, 2006, and 2012.
In 2002, a group of opposition politicians and troops backed by the United States staged a coup against Chavez. He was arrested and sent to a military base on a Caribbean island.
However, just two days later, the efforts of loyal military officers and massive demonstrations by Venezuelans swept him back to power.
Chavez founded the Bolivarian Revolution to establish popular democracy and economic independence and equitably distribute wealth in Latin America.
He was one of the key players in the progressive movement that has swept across Latin America over the past few years.