CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- World leaders, athletes and left-wing celebrities are among those attending today's funeral in Caracas for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
As the funeral got under way, a line of people who were still waiting to see Chavez's body stretched for a mile and a half.
The funeral at a military academy where Chavez has been lying in state began with Venezuela's national youth orchestra performing the national anthem. In the streets outside, there was a carnival atmosphere, with military bands launching into marches. Crowds of supporters wore the red of Chavez's socialist party. They watched the ceremony on huge monitors under a blazing sun.
Inside the funeral hall, more than 30 political leaders stood at attention in front of the flag-draped coffin. They included Cuba's Raul Castro and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Many of them were welcomed by Nicolas Maduro. He's the vice president who will be sworn in later today as interim president. That event will be boycotted by the country's opposition, which says it is unconstitutional.
The United States is represented by congressman Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat, and former Democratic congressman William Delahunt of Massachusetts. The Rev. Jesse Jackson was invited to speak. TV cameras also captured actor Sean Penn in attendance.
182-c-21-(Frank Bajak (BY'-ak), AP correspondent)-"constitution for that"-AP correspondent Frank Bajak reports Chavez's anointed interim successor is to be sworn in after the funeral amid criticism that he has no right to the job. (8 Mar 2013)
180-c-15-(Frank Bajak (BY'-ak), AP correspondent)-"so many people"-AP correspondent Frank Bajak reports the usually traffic-choked streets of Caracas are empty as Venezuelans line up outside a military venue where President Chavez's body has lain in state. (8 Mar 2013)
APPHOTO XRM127: People stand out the military academy during the funeral ceremony for Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, March 8, 2013. Chavez died on March 5 after a nearly two-year bout with cancer.
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