Hugo Chavez’s embalmed body is to go on permanent display in a crystal casket, it was revealed today ahead of his state funeral.
Venezuela’s Acting President Nicolas Maduro confirmed Chavez would lie in state for at least seven more days, before his body is embalmed and transferred to a military museum which will become a permanent memorial.
The move to embalm Chavez has drawn comparisons with other far left leaders whose bodies have been put on permanent display.
In a statement, Madura said: “We have decided to prepare the body of our Comandante President to embalm it so that it remains open for all time for the people. Just like Ho Chi Minh. Just like Lenin. Just like Mao Zedong.”
He added that the decision to display Chavez had been taken so “his people will always have him”, before telling Venezuelans “You will see the Commandante. He belongs to you.”
Chavez’s funeral is set to take place later today, with at least 33 heads of government attending, among them Cuban President Raul Castro and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Maduro said the ceremony would begin at 11am local time, but did not specify where it would be taking place.
Tens of thousands of people have already filed past Chavez’s glass-topped, wooden casket over the days since his death.
Members of the public were each given just a few seconds to look at Chavez’s remains, dressed in an army uniform with the signature red beret he wore during his famous 1992 speech to the nation that launched his political career, before being moved on.
The casket is currently surrounded by flowers and draped in a Venezuelan flag, although details of how the permanent display will look remain sketchy.
Madura said Chavez would certainly be embalmed and displayed in a ‘crystal glass urn’, but did not elaborate.