Hugo Chavez is joining an elite group of world leaders … to undergo permanent embalming.
Regular baths and annual flights to Russia or China might await Chavez’s corpse now that Venezuela has decided preserving their divisive leader’s body is a fitting tribute to his legacy.
“It has been decided that the body of the comandante will be embalmed so that it remains eternally on view for the people at the museum,” acting president Nicolás Maduro said, according to the Guardian.
Chavez’s body will go on display at the Museum of the Revolution, which will be built where he plotted a failed coup in 1992, AFP reported.
Maduro said Chavez will be embalmed “like Ho Chi Minh, Lenin and Mao” and kept in a glass casket to be seen “for eternity,” according to AFP.
Don’t forget the North Koreans, Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung, and Russian hard-liner Joseph Stalin.
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Kim Jong-il is apparently North Korea’s biggest tourist attraction; perhaps North Koreans miss his khaki jumpsuit.
“He looks like a person,” tour operator Gareth Johnson told ABC News. “Not waxy at all.”
Sadly, the same can’t be said for Lenin, who died in 1924. His body undergoes a rigorous regimen to prevent decay, but looks “waxy” and “shiny,” BBC said.
Still, considering the alternatives, Lenin’s body looks reasonably healthy. Twice weekly the face and hands are washed in a special solution; it gets an annual bath in the same solution.
Embalming fluid has a pink hue to give the corpse a more realistic appearance.
Every three years, the corpse gets a new wardrobe. It’s all part of the regular maintenance for long-term embalming, said Sue Black, professor at the Center for Anatomy and Human Identification at University of Dundee.
The Russians were so renowned for their preservation of Stalin and Lenin that the Vietnamese government flew Ho Chi Minh’s body to Russia for annual upgrades, BBC said.
So is this what awaits Chavez’s body? Perhaps, if the Venezuelans want their icon to remain fresh.
“When it dries out, you could immerse it for a few weeks to replenish the tissues,” Black told BBC. “It will need to tended to like a plant on a fairly regular basis.”