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Wednesday March 6, 2013 06:28

Oliver Stone, Sean Penn hail ‘hero’ Chavez

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LOS ANGELES (AFP) – US filmmaker and long-time Hugo Chavez supporter Oliver Stone hailed the late Venezuelan leader as a ”great hero” on Tuesday, saying he will ”live forever in history.”

Actor and activist Sean Penn, another Hollywood friend to Chavez, also paid tribute saying the world’s poor had lost a ”champion” and America had also lost ”a friend it never knew it had.”

”JFK” and ”Natural Born Killers” director Stone said: ”I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people and those who struggle throughout the world for a place.

”Hated by the entrenched classes, Hugo Chavez will live forever in history,” he added in a statement released by his publicist, adding: ”My friend, rest finally in a peace long earned.”

Stone has regularly praised Chavez, whom he interviewed for a 2009 documentary ”South of the Border,” exploring the outspoken Venezuelan leader’s role in bottom-up change sweeping South America.

Penn, in a statement reacting to Chavez’s death aged 58, added: ”Venezuela and its revolution will endure under the proven leadership of Vice President (Nicolas) Maduro.

”Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion. I lost a friend I was blessed to have.

”My thoughts are with the family of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela,” he added

The Oscar-winning actor developed a friendship Chavez, visiting him in Venezuela on multiple occasions, and also interviewing Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro. Chavez has described the actor as a ”friend of just causes.”

Stone and Penn were speaking after Chavez lost his battle with cancer, his death silencing the leading voice of the Latin American left and plunging his oil-rich nation into an uncertain future.

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