Hollywood stars pay tribute to late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez


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The Independent Culture

America and Venezuela have not been the best of friends lately but Hollywood stars have been quick to pay tribute to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez who died of cancer last night aged 58.

Filmmaker Oliver Stone said “I mourn a great hero” while actor Sean Penn said “I lost a friend”.

In a statement Penn, who was present at a candlelight vigil for the President in December, said: "Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion."

He continued: "I lost a friend I was blessed to have. My thoughts are with the family of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela." The two met in 2007 and Penn was a vocal supporter joining Chavez at his election rally in August 2012.

Penn and Chavez also met in 2007 and the filmmaker championed him in 2009 film South of the Border which was about South America.

“I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people and those who struggle throughout the world for a place," Stone said in a statement.

Fahrenheit 9/11 filmmaker Michael Moore added his voice to the chorus of tributes, via Twitter. He said: “You won't hear much nice about him in the US media in the next few days. So, I thought I'd say a couple things to provide some balance.”

He continued: "Hugo Chavez declared the oil belonged 2 the ppl(sic). He used the oil $ 2 eliminate 75% of extreme poverty, provide free health & education 4 all," Moore tweeted. "That made him dangerous. US approved of a coup to overthrow him even though he was a democratically-elected President."

Adding: "Before they cheeleaded (sic) us into the Iraq War, the US media was busy cheering on the overthrow of Chavez. 54 countries around the world allowed the US to detain(& torture) suspects. Latin America, thanks 2 Chavez, was the only place that said no."

Moore and Chavez met in 2009 at the Venice Film Festival.