March 6, 2013 at 7:50 PM ET
As thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of Caracas to mourn President Hugo Chavez after learning of his death Tuesday, tributes began pouring in from supporters around the world — including several Hollywood heavyweights who stood by the socialist firebrand during his reign.
Actor Sean Penn, one of the Latin American leader's most vocal supporters (he once joined Chavez on the campaign trail and attended a candlelight vigil for him in Bolivia last year) said the United States had "lost a friend it never knew it had."
"And poor people around the world lost a champion," Penn said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "I lost a friend I was blessed to have. My thoughts are with the family of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela."
Filmmaker Oliver Stone, who first met Chavez in December 2007 and credited him for many of the social changes taking place in South America, said the former leader would live forever in history.
''I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people and those who struggle throughout the world for a place," Stone said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "Hated by the entrenched classes, Hugo Chavez will live forever in history."
"My friend, rest finally in a peace long earned," Stone added.
Actor Danny Glover, who had visited Chavez in Venezuela several times, echoed the same sentiment.
"In sadness and in tribute to my friend, Hugo Chavez, I join with millions of Venezuelans, Latin Americans, Caribbeans, fellow U.S. citizens and millions of freedom-loving people around the world, in hope for a rewarding future for the democratic and social development charter of the Bolivarian Revolution,” Glover told theGrio.
“We all embraced Hugo Chavez as a social-champion of democracy, material development, and spiritual well-being.”
Others, including Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona, paid their respects via Twitter. "So long comandante @chavezcandanga, we will miss you forever #ChavezVive," Maradona posted Wednesday.
"Ruling Classes hated Hugo Chavez. RIP," tweeted comedian Roseanne Barr.
"You won't hear much nice about him in the US media in the next few days. So, I thought I'd say a couple things to provide some balance," tweeted filmmaker Michael Moore Tuesday.
"54 countries around the world allowed the US to detain(& torture) suspects. Latin America, thanks 2 Chavez, was the only place that said no," he added.
"We spoke for over an hour," Moore said of an encounter with Chavez in 2009. "He said he was happy 2 finally meet someone Bush hated more than him."