CARACAS, Venezuela — While dignitaries from around the world attended the funeral of Hugo Chávez on Friday, Angélica Rodríguez stood in a line that stretched close to a mile in hopes of getting a glimpse of him lying in state. But her older brother, Gustavo, was much farther away, geographically and politically, having moved to Panama over a year ago because he believed there was no future in a Venezuela run by Mr. Chávez.

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“He said we’re glorifying a man who does not deserve it,” said Ms. Rodríguez, 23, a university student who had been standing in line for 16 hours and had many hours to go.

Mr. Chávez’s death prompted a massive outpouring of grief from his supporters as thousands waited outside the funeral for a chance to enter later to see his glass-covered coffin. But many other Venezuelans stayed home and expressed hope that his passing would lead to change.

“He was a man who awoke passions, for good or bad,” said Claudia Astor, 41, who watched a television broadcast of the funeral and recounted her long-standing misgivings of Mr. Chávez. At her side was her mother, Norma Astor, 73, an ardent supporter of Mr. Chávez from the day in 1992 when he first appeared on television screens as the leader of a failed coup.

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The proceedings also put on display the political alliances that Mr. Chávez assembled during 14 years as president, often with an eye toward confronting the United States, who he regularly pilloried as an imperialist force of evil.

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President Raúl Castro of Cuba sat in the front row, next to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who at one point kissed Mr. Chávez’s flag-draped coffin. Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, shed some tears.

Despite years of rough relationships with the United States, including the expulsion from Caracas on Tuesday of two American military attaches who were accused of seeking to destabilize the country, there were signs that both sides were trying to put on a moderate face, at least for a day.

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The United States sent Representative Gregory W. Meeks, Democrat of New York, and William D. Delahunt, a former Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, who had positive contacts with Venezuelan officials in the past.

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And Nicolás Maduro, who was Mr. Chávez’s vice president until he was sworn in as president on Friday night, had kind words for the American delegation in his eulogy, emphasizing that they were sent by President Obama.

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“Here there are some representatives that we greet and value,” Mr. Maduro said, naming the two American politicians and the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, who was also present, although not part of the official delegation.

In his eulogy, Mr. Maduro, Mr. Chávez’s handpicked political heir, praised his mentor for starting Venezuela down the path of socialism, although he stressed that there was still a long way to go.

“You can go in peace, commander,” Mr. Maduro said. “Mission accomplished. The battle continues.”

And while he spoke of love and forgiveness, he also touched on some of Mr. Chávez’s familiar themes, harping on enemies and the dark shadow of betrayal.

“There has not been a leader in the history of our country more vilified, more insulted and more vilely attacked than our commander president,” he said.

Mr. Maduro was sworn in as interim president in a special session of the National Assembly several hours after the funeral and then immediately put on the presidential sash. The Supreme Court had ratified the transition in a ruling earlier in the day.

But most opposition lawmakers boycotted the session, arguing that the Constitution was being violated. Henrique Capriles, who ran unsuccessfully against Mr. Chávez in October, called the swearing in spurious at a news conference. He said that under the Constitution Mr. Maduro should take charge of the duties of president while retaining the title of vice president. But the Constitution clearly bars a vice president from running for president, meaning that under Mr. Capriles’s interpretation, Mr. Maduro would have to resign from the government in order to run.

“Nicolás, no one elected you president,” a combative Mr. Capriles said. “The people didn’t vote for you, boy.”

The wrangling presaged the bitter political contest that is to come as the country heads to a special election to replace Mr. Chávez. Mr. Maduro, 50, is expected to be the candidate of the government party, while a person in the opposition coalition said that there was a consensus to name Mr. Capriles, 42, as its candidate.

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Election authorities have yet to set a date for the vote.

In announcing Mr. Chávez’s death on Tuesday, a distraught Mr. Maduro described the country as a family. But on Friday it seemed like a family torn apart.

“I hate the anti-Chavistas with all my heart,” said Nancy Cadena, 45, who sells plantains and bananas in a street market in Petare, a poor neighborhood. “They don’t want the poor people to catch up.”

A few miles away in a middle-class neighborhood, Luisa Mercedes Pulido, 69, said that while she and her sister Elenora, 64, were on opposite sides of the national divide, they got along fine as long as they avoided politics.

“She has her point of view that she isn’t going to change, and I have mine that I’m not going to change,” she said. “But it seems incredible to me that intelligent, thoughtful people, at this stage, continue to think as they do when what we have received from Mr. Chávez is misery, corruption, murders and a total reduction in our quality of life and so much crime. I don’t understand how they cannot see that.”

 

Reporting (Text) was contributed by Simon Romero, María Eugenia Díaz, Jonathan Gilbert and Paula Ramón. (NYT, March 8, 2013)

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