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Chavez statue causes Bolivia stir

November 7, 2013

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — The installation of a statue of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in a Bolivian Amazon city has been controversial enough.

The timing of its unveiling Wednesday by President Evo Morales didn’t help.

Local authorities and opposition politicians lambasted Morales for not letting the community of Riberalta at least finishing mourning the eight people who died in Sunday’s crash of a small commuter plane.

For lack of a fire engine, people used mud to extinguish flames that engulfed the plane after it overran the runway. Opposition lawmaker Carlos Ojopi said firefighting equipment is more important to Riberalta, a city of 100,000, than a 10-foot (3-meter) likeness of Chavez.

Venezuela’s government donated the statue of a uniformed, beret-wearing Chavez, Morales’ political godfather. It sits on a bank of the Beni River.

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