A day after his death, Hugo Chavez is already being touted as a martyr and a messiah by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who equated the now deceased Venezuelan leader to Jesus and Shiite Islam’s 12th imam Wednesday, saying, “I have no doubt that he will return, along with the righteous Jesus and the perfect human.”
Ahmadinejad also reiterated claims made by Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro that Chavez died of a “suspect illness” but didn’t go as far as Maduro had in equating Chavez’s death to that of late Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yassir Arafat, who some believe died by poisoning at the hands of Israel.
A cabinet meeting chaired by the president declared Wednesday a day of mourning in Iran, the state television website said.
During Chavez’s tenure Venezuela became increasingly close with the Islamic Republic with Chavez making 13 visits to Iran between 1999 and his death on Tuesday. Ahmadinejad has made six visits to Venezuela since 2005.