CARACAS – The body of late President Hugo Chavez will be preserved and kept on display in a glass tomb in the manner of Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin, the Venezuelan government said Thursday.
“I want to tell the nation and the world ... it has been decided to prepare the body of the comandante president, embalm it, so it can be eternally open for the people to have it there always,” Vice President Nicolas Maduro said on state television.
The tomb will rest inside a future Museum of the Bolivarian Revolution, to be built at the barracks then-Lt. Col. Chavez used as a command post during his failed coup in 1992, Maduro said from the Military Academy, where the leftist president’s body now lies in state.
“So, like Ho Chi Minh, like Lenin, like Mao Zedong, the body of our commander-in-chief will remain embalmed ... for our people to be able to have him forever,” the acting head of state said.
Maduro also said Chavez’s body will remain at the Military Academy for at least seven more days “for all the people to be able to see him, without limitation.”
The state funeral will take place Friday with 33 heads of state and government in attendance, the vice president said.
Chavez, 58, died Tuesday of a heart attack after battling cancer for 21 months.
The streets of Caracas are bathed in red in honor of Chavez, who made the color the symbol of his Bolivarian Revolution.
Thousands of red-clad Venezuelans lined the streets on Wednesday as Chavez’s coffin was carried from the Military Hospital to the Military Academy, where people stood in line as long as 10 hours for an opportunity to get a glimpse of the fallen leader.
Chavez underwent four operations, as well as courses of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, since first being diagnosed with cancer in June 2011.
He spent more than two months in Cuba due to complications that followed his Dec. 11 cancer surgery in Havana.
First elected in 1998, Chavez won another six-year term in last October’s election.
New elections are to be held within 30 days and Maduro is expected to be the candidate of the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela. EFE