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Prince Felipe in Caracas for Chavez funeral

Spain's Crown Prince Felipe has arrived in Caracas where he is attending the funeral of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

Prince Felipe in Caracas for Chavez funeral
Spain's Prince Felipe prior to a lunch with Guatemala's President Otto Perez Molina at the Royal Palace in Madrid on February 13th 2013. Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP

The prince arrived at Caracas' Maiquetía airport at 5am local time, or 10.30am Spanish time, reported El Mundo. 

He was greeted by Venezuela's deputy foreign affairs minister Temir Porras and by the Spanish embassador in Venezuela Antonio Pérez-Hernández.

The welcoming party for the popular prince was rounded out by the Spanish Venezuela's tourism minister Alejandro Fleming.

The charismatic Hugo Chavez died on Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. 

His funeral includes representatives from over 50 countries, El Mundo said.

As King Juan Carlos is on sick leave after his recent back operation, Crown Prince Felipe is Spain's acting head of state.

The Spanish government won't be represented at the highest level at Chavez' funeral, as neither prime minister Mariano Rajoy nor foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo have made the journey.

The foreign minister did not travel because of slight perforation of the eardrum, reported La Vanguardia.

The paper said García-Margallo's doctors had advised the minister not to travel to Venezuela especially given that he had to travel to Brussels on Monday for a meeting with Europe's foreign ministers.

Spain's left-wing groups have, however, criticized the fact that the top tier of Spanish government won't be represented at Chavez' funeral.

Willy Meyer, eurodeputy for the Izquierda Unida (IU) said the decision was "yet another error on the South American front".

Meyer will be attending Chavez' funeral with Spain's federal coordinator for the IU Cayo Lara, reported La Vanguardia.

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VENEZUELA

Spain refuses to hand over opposition figure to Venezuela

The Spanish government said Thursday it would not hand over Venezuelan opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez, who is wanted by authorities in Caracas but has taken refuge in Madrid's embassy in Caracas.

Spain refuses to hand over opposition figure to Venezuela
Photo: AFP

The government “does not envisage in any circumstances handing over Leopoldo Lopez to the Venezuelan authorities nor asking him to leave the ambassador's residence”, the Spanish foreign ministry said in a statement.   

Lopez emerged on Tuesday from two years of house arrest to join opposition leader Juan Guaido at a demonstration as the National Assembly president tried to incite a military uprising against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.   

Later that day, Lopez sought refuge in the Chilean embassy with his wife and daughter before moving to the Spanish embassy.   

Lopez was first arrested in 2014 and accused of inciting violent protests against the government. He was handed a nearly 14-year sentence in 2015 and then transferred to house arrest in 2017. 

Madrid published the statement following a meeting between the Spanish ambassador and Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza.    

It said that Spain wanted to “find a solution as quickly as possible” but stressed that, under international law, diplomatic residences were inviolable.    

Lopez's wife Lilian Tintori claimed on Twitter on Wednesday that their house had been robbed and ransacked while they were away.   

In statements made at the Spanish ambassador's residence on Thursday, Lopez said that the attempted uprising was “part of a process — it's a crack that will become a bigger crack… that will end up breaking the dam.”

READ MORE: Spain insists fresh elections 'only way out' of Venezuela crisis

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