Hugo Chavez’s body will be preserved and forever displayed inside a glass tomb at a military museum not far from the presidential palace from which he ruled for 14 years, his successor announced Thursday in a Caribbean version of the treatment given Communist revolutionary leaders such as Lenin, Mao and Ho Chi Minh.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s acting head of state, said Chavez would first lie in state for “at least” seven more days at the museum, which eventually will become his permanent home. It was not clear when exactly he would be moved from the military academy where his body has been since Wednesday.
A state funeral will take place today attended by more than 30 heads of government, including Cuban President Raul Castro and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat, and former Rep. William Delahunt, a Democrat from Massachusetts, will represent the United States, which Chavez often portrayed as a great global evil even as he sent the country billions of dollars in oil each year.
A sea of sobbing, heartbroken humanity jammed Venezuela’s main military academy Thursday to see Chavez’s body, some waiting 10 hours under the twinkling stars and the searing Caribbean sun to file past his coffin.