Photo: RTV: Chavez Honored
Roughly 30 heads of state and government and other dignitaries from around the world have gathered to attend Hugo Chavez’s funeral, which was followed by an extraordinary legislative session in which Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro will be sworn in as acting president.
Chavez’s funeral began at 11:00 a.m. Friday at the Caracas Military Academy, where the late leader’s body will lie in state for at least another week, officials said.
Throngs of the late president’s supporters lined the streets of Caracas on Wednesday to accompany his funeral cortege on its route from the Military Hospital to the Military Academy, which thousands of Venezuelans have since visited to bid Chavez farewell.
Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe and the presidents of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos; Ecuador, Rafael Correa; Cuba, Raul Castro; Brazil, Dilma Rousseff; Haiti, Michel Martelly; Peru, Ollanta Humala; Bolivia, Evo Morales; Uruguay, Jose Mujica; and Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang, are in Caracas for Friday’s funeral.
Also in the Venezuelan capital to pay their final respects to Chavez, who died Tuesday after a 21-month battle with cancer, are the presidents of Chile, Sebastian Piñera; Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla; Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; and Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, as well as delegations from more than 50 countries.
Maduro announced Thursday that Chavez’s body will be preserved and kept on display in a glass tomb in the manner of Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin.
“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 vice president said.
Maduro will be sworn in as acting president in a ceremony scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. Friday and will call elections, National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello said on state television Thursday.