Chávez to be embalmed after funeral
Venezuela's vice president Nicolas Maduro and National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello stand guard next to the coffin of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez during a wake in Caracas yesterday. Photograph: Miraflores Palace/Reuters
Venezuela's late leader, Hugo Chavez, will be embalmed and laid to rest at a military museum in the capital Caracas, acting president Nicolas Maduro said tonight.
Chavez's state funeral was scheduled for tomorrow, but Mr Maduro said his body would remain lying in state for a further seven days so that Venezuelans waiting in long lines to view him would be able to do so.
Mr Maduro said his body would later to moved from the military museum to his final burial site. It was not immediately clear where that would be.
Mr Chávez died of a massive heart attack after great suffering and inaudibly mouthed his desire to live, the head of Venezuela’s presidential guard said earlier today.
“He couldn’t speak, but he said it with his lips...‘I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die,’ because he loved his country, he sacrificed himself for his country,” General Jose Ornella said.
The general said he spent the last two years with Mr Chávez, including his final moments, as Venezuela’s president of 14 years battled an unspecified cancer in the pelvic region.
Mr Ornella spoke outside the military academy where Mr Chávez’s body lay in state. He said Mr Chavez’s cancer was very advanced when death came but gave no details.
The government said on the eve of Mr Chávez’s death that he had suffered a severe new respiratory infection.
It was the second respiratory infection reported by officials after he underwent his fourth cancer surgery in Cuba on December 11th.
Venezuelan authorities have not said what kind of cancer Mr Chávez had or specified exactly where tumours were removed.