The eternally-controversial and locally beloved Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s is being laid to rest in a state funeral Friday, attracting throngs of mourners and dozens of world leaders to Caracas for the ceremony.
Chavez, who died at 58 from cancer complications on March 5, will lie in state at a military museum for a week after the ceremony. Then his body will be embalmed and placed on permanent display, in a fashion reminiscent of the preserved bodies of Lenin and Mao, says Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s acting president.
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Among the international leaders paying their respect to Chavez are Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Cuban President Raul Castro, Rafel Correa of Ecuador, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, among others, wrote CNN.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro will be sworn in immediately following the funeral, while elections for a new Venezuelan premier must be held within 30 days per the Venezuelan constitution, Al Jazeera reported.
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“A thousand thanks for the posthumous tributes to a man who fought for world peace, for unity in Latin America and the Caribbean, and for the democratization of global institutions,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said to Reuters of the turnout of mourning “Chavistas.”
“The show of love for the president has been incredible.”