Caracas, Mar 8: In order to enable Venezuelans to see the body of their late president Hugo Chavez whenever they feel like having a glimpse, the United Socialist Party government has decided to embalm it.
In an address to the nation that was televised on Thursday, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said that "the body of the comandante president" will be embalmed "so it can be eternally open for the people to have it there always."
China and Vietnam have similarly kept the bodies of Communist leaders Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh on display. In fact, both countries drew inspiration from the manner in which Russia embalmed revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin back in 1924.
The mortal remains of Chavez have been placed in a glass casket at the Military Academy here. Thousands of mourners have been filing past the coffin after patiently standing in long queues.
The mausoleum of Chavez could become one of the biggest attractions at the Museum of the Bolivarian Revolution that is to be built at the "Mountain Barracks" from where he tried to overthrow the then president Carlos Andres Perez in Feb 1992.
Though Chavez did not achieve his objective and he was even arrested for spearheading the coup, many of his countrymen started admiring him. Six years later, he was elected president for the first time.
In Oct 2012, Chavez won a fourth straight presidential election. By then, he had developed cancer. He underwent chemotherapy and as many as four surgeries in the past 21 months but the 58-year-old succumbed to complications on Tuesday. His body is to remain at the Military Academy for at a week.
Maduro has already hinted that the final resting place of Chavez might be the national Pantheon wherein the bronze sarcophagus of Simon Bolivar occupies pride of place.
Chavez is to be given a state funeral on Friday. Several heads of state are expected to attend. Minister of Corporate Affairs Sachin Pilot will be the Indian representative.