Chavez Body On Ice: Venezuelan President’s Body To Be Preserved For Permanent Display
Chavez's body will be preserved for permanent display at the Museum of the Revolution, just a short distance from the presidential palace from which he ruled Venezuela for 14 years.
Venezuelan vice president and acting head of the country Nicolas Maduro said Friday that Chavez's embalmed body would be displayed permanently in a glass crystal casket. "You will see the commandante," Maduro told a crowd. "He belongs to you."
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"The body of our leader will be embalmed, and it will ... be surrounded by crystal glass forever, present forever, and always with his people," he said on state-run TV.
Chavez's body is currently at a military academy for the president's funeral, where he will lie in state for at least another seven days, Maduro announced. Among the 30 heads of state to attend the funeral of Chavez on Friday were Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Cuba's Raul Castro. CBS News reports that, upon his arrival at the airport the night before the funeral, Ahmadinejad said of the late Venezuelan president: "I feel like I have lost myself, but I am sure that he still lives. Chavez will never die. His spirit and soul live on in each of our hearts."
AP reports for TIME that at the funeral, Chavez lay in a glass-covered coffin wearing the olive-green military uniform and red beret of his paratrooper days. He looked gaunt and pale, with his lips pressed together.
Chavez, who died at 58 on Tuesday from cancer, will be joining the ranks of leftist leaders whose legacies have been frozen in time, preserved for posterity as an act of deference by their parties. Soviet political leader Vladimir Lenin kicked off the tradition in 1924 when his body was prepared for exhibition and put on display in a mausoleum in Moscow's Red Square, where it is still open to the public for viewing. Mao Zedong, after his death in 1976, was embalmed and is bared in a large mausoleum in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who died in December 2011 at age 69, was also embalmed and his body, still wearing his trademark khaki jumpsuit, can be seen in Pyongyang.
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