The body of recently deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez will be embalmed and placed on display at a planned museum according to interim leader Nicolás Maduro.
Chávez’ body will be preserved “so that it may be forever exhibited to the public at the Museum of the Revolution”, declared Maduro to the press at the Fuerte Tiuna military base where Chávez has lied in state on Thursday. The former Vice President compared what will happen to Chávez’ remains with the preserved corpses of famed revolutionary figures Vladimir Lenin and Ho Chinh Minh.
Maduro also said that Chávez would lie in state for an additional seven days before being moved to its final resting place, which is currently under construction.
“We want the whole world to see him without any limitations”, Maduro mentioned after hundreds of thousands of Chavistas put up with hot weather and waits of up to ten hours in order to pay their respects to the former president.
“Comandante — rest in peace. We'll carry on your fight,” said one mourner who also praised Chávez’ “powerful connection” to Venezuela’s impoverished classes.
Foreign Minister Elias Jaua claimed that thirty-three government representatives confirmed their attendance for the funeral ceremony
The planned visit by Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have led Argentine President Cristina Kirchner to leave Venezuela and return to her country. (Argentina and Iran have had strained diplomatic ties due to the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish cultural center).
According to a senior military official, the cancer-stricken Chávez died on Tuesday as a result of a massive heart attack.
“He couldn't speak but he said it with his lips … 'I don't want to die. Please don't let me die,' because he loved his country, he sacrificed himself for his country," General Jose Ornella told the Associated Press.
Venezuela’s opposition parties have supposedly been preparing for the upcoming presidential election whose date has yet to be decided. Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chávez by over ten percent in last year’s presidential race, is said to be the frontrunner for the country’s main opposition alliance.
Update: At least two million people reportedly filed past Chávez' body as it lay in state on Thursday.
Fifty-five world leaders are expected to attend the funeral ceremony on Friday morning.
Some of them are presidents from countries representing "Latin America's new left" although at least two conservative regional leaders are planning to be at the funeral (Chilean President Sebastián PIñera and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos).
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland admitted that a "low-profile delegation" consisting of two politicians and the U.S. charge d’affaires in Caracas will attend the funeral.
Nuland also blasted the Venezuelan government's recent expelling of two U.S. diplomats as "part of a tired playbook of alleging foreign interference as a political football in internal Venezuelan politics."
Video Source– YouTube via user canalNTN24
Online Sources including Update – The Latin Americanist, El Espectador, The Guardian, The Latin Americanist, El Tiempo, El Nacional, NBC News, Clarin.com, The Washington Post, BBC News, LAHT