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LatAm nations, regional blocs mourn Chavez


12:47, March 07, 2013

MEXICO CITY, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Latin American leaders and regional blocs Wednesday mourned the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, praising him for his lifelong efforts to promote regional independence and integration.

Among the countries ordering a three-day mourning are Brazil, Haiti,Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Chile, Cuba and Ecuador. Nicaragua extends the mourning period to seven days.

Most Latin American state leaders, including Argentinean President Cristina Fernandez, Bolivia's Evo Morales, Jose Mujica of Uruguay, Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico, Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, have said they would attend Chavez's funeral on Friday in Caracas.

Funeral attenders also include Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Ollanta Humala of Peru, Michel Martelly of Haiti, Sebastian Pinera of Chile and Danilo Medina of the Dominican Republic.

Cuba, the closest ally of Chavez that took him for two-month long medical treatment before his passing away on Tuesday, ordered flags to fly at half-staff in tribute to the late Venezuelan president, as did the Dominican Republic and Uruguay.

Haitian President Martelly, besides ordering a three-day national mourning, said the government was considering to build a memorial for Chavez "who lived to give his love and passion for Haiti."

Nicaragua's ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front held a solemn ceremony in honor of Chavez on Tuesday night, attended by President Ortega and his wife, the spokeswoman and other high-ranking officials.

Brazil's Rousseff hailed Chavez "a great leader" and "a friend of Brazil" on Tuesday, together with her is the Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, who said his country has "lost a friend of immeasurable proportion".

Meanwhile, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) and the South American Market (Mercosur), two of Latin America's prominent regional integration blocs, also voiced condolences on Wednesday, affirming Chavez' key role in promoting regional independence and economic growth.

ALBA, created by Chavez and now retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro in2004, said in a Wednesday statement that "Chavez was a beacon that inspired the emergence" of the organization.

"Never before in the history of our America has a president that did so much in such a short lifetime for the integration and unity of of our continent," said ALBA, adding that Chavez "will remain forever in the poor's hearts" and vowing to continue his work to promote the South American integration.

Also on Wednesday, leaders of Mercosur nations, a major regional economic bloc that groups together Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela and Paraguay, said in a statement that Chavez was an "extraordinary figure" and a "firm promoter of regional integration", and "will remain in the shared memory of Latin America as a great independence fighter in the international sphere."

"The best tribute we can pay to him is to preserve his legacy to advance integration," said the bloc, which permitted Venezuela's full entry in 2012.

Venezuela's accession to Mercosur "was one of the milestones in the history of the bloc, and the proof of the renewed political will," the statement added.

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