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Mixed reactions from around the world

Reactions to the death of Hugo Chavez were as mixed, polemical and outsized as the leader was in life, with some saying his passing was a tragic loss and others calling it an opportunity for Venezuela to escape his long shadow.

Seen as a hero by some for his anti-US rhetoric and gifts of cut-rate oil, others considered him a bully.

A teary-eyed Bolivian president Evo Morales, one of Chavez's closest allies and most loyal disciples, declared that "Chavez is more alive than ever. Chavez will continue to be an inspiration for all peoples who fight for their liberation", in a televised speech. In Cuba, President Raul Castro's government declared two days of national mourning.

Some islanders worried that the loss of the country's No 1 ally, who has sent billions of dollars of oil to Cuba at preferential terms, could have a negative effect.

In the United States, where relations with Venezuela were strained under Chavez, President Barack Obama issued a statement reaffirming Washington's support for the "Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government".

"The United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights."

Filmmaker Oliver Stone wrote in his Twitter account: "I mourn a great hero."

Some of the estimated 189,219 Venezuelan immigrants living in the US turned out cheering and waving their country's flag and expressed hope that change would come to their homeland.

"He's gone!" dozens in a largely anti-Chavez community chanted.

There was no comment from China, which has provided tens of billions of dollars in loans to Chavez.