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'Farewell, Comandante:’ Venezuelans throng to view Chavez’s body in state (PHOTOS)

Published time: March 07, 2013 04:34
Edited time: March 07, 2013 07:09
Venezuelan Vice-President Nicolas Maduro (L) and Diosdado Cabello, Venezuelan president of the National Assembly stand next to teh coffin of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Military Academy on March 6, 2013 in Caracas (AFP Photo / Presidencia)

Venezuelan Vice-President Nicolas Maduro (L) and Diosdado Cabello, Venezuelan president of the National Assembly stand next to teh coffin of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Military Academy on March 6, 2013 in Caracas (AFP Photo / Presidencia)

Following a seven-hour procession through the streets of Caracas, the coffin holding the body of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has been placed in a chapel in the Military Academy of Venezuela, where it will stay until the Friday funeral.

Thousands of weeping supporters followed the hearse as it crawled from the military hospital where Chavez passed away to the Military Academy of Venezuela. Huge crowds lined up to bid a final farewell as his body was placed in half-open casket draped with the Venezuelan flag.

Hugo Chavez died on March 5, following a long battle with cancer. The head of Venezuela's presidential guard said Chavez died of a massive heart attack after a long period of suffering. The general was with the Venezuelan leader at the time of his death, he told AP.

General Jose Ornella indicated that Chavez’s last words were the mouthed: "I don't want to die. Please don't let me die."

Chavez’s hand-picked successor Nicolas Maduro walked with a sober face alongside the car. He was accompanied by the late president’s staunch ally, Bolivian leader Evo Morales.

Other close Latin American allies, including Argentine President Cristina Kirchner and Uruguay’s Jose Mejica, had already arrived in Caracas ahead of the state funeral, which is to take place on Friday.

The coffin of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is carried to the Military Academy for his funeral on March 6, 2013 in Caracas (AFP Photo / Presidencia)

Grieving family members, top officials and the foreign leaders attended a funeral Mass before Chavez’s open coffin.

Balloons representing the colors of the Venezuelan flag were released outside the military academy as people chanted: "Chavez lives, the struggle goes on."

Flamboyant socialist leader Hugo Chavez, who led the so-called Bolivarian Revolution, passed away at the age of 58 on Tuesday following a two-year fight against cancer and a severe respiratory infection.

His Vice President Nicolas Maduro has temporarily taken over and, with elections due to be called within 30 days. Defeating opposition leader Henrique Capriles, Chavez had been reelected last October for his fourth term but was almost absent from political life due to his battle with cancer.

Now the country braces for new heated election, the outcome of which will determine whether a change in leadership will challenge the order established by Chavez’s revolution.


Hugo Chavez's close relatives stand next to the coffin of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Military Academy on March 6, 2013 in Caracas (AFP Photo / Presidencia

Now the country is braced for new hotly-contested election, the outcome of which will determine whether a change in leadership will challenge the order established by Chavez’s New Bolivarian Revolution.

“We are going to see a very heated election and any intervention on the part of the US would be taken as hostility towards Venezuela and would play into the elections,” Latin America expert Miguel Tinker Salas told RT.

“After the election of the new president, I think there are good conditions for an effort to re-establish relationships. But I think we need to understand that it’s not just Venezuela that had difficulty with Washington… WikiLeaks reports really indicate how the US attempted to maneuver and play country against country in Latin America, and provided a revealing look into how little US policy has changed, either from Bush or Obama.”

Gregory Wilpert, co-founder of Venezuelanalaysis.com, is convinced that Nicolas Maduro is set to win the election as polls show that 55 against 36 per cent of the population back him. 

He argues that throughout most of Chavez’s rule the country witnessed continuous economic growth.

“Certainly there’s a problem in inefficiency in public administration, but that’s a chronic problem that’s been around since before Chavez. And claims that Chavez has somehow made this worse I don’t find believable… a lot of things have been repaired and a lot are in better shape than before,” he told RT.

The coffin of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is carried to the Military Academy for his funeral on March 6, 2013 in Caracas (AFP Photo / Presidencia))

Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez (L), Uruguayan President Jose Mujica (C) and Bolivian President Evo Morales (R) stand next to the coffin of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Military Academy on March 6, 2013 in Caracas (AFP Photo / Presidencia))

The coffin of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez covered with clothes that people have thrown at it, is driven through the streets of Caracas, after leaving the military hospital where he died of cancer, March 6, 2013 (Reuters / Edwin Montilva)

Supporters of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez watch as his coffin arrives at the Military Academy, where his wake will be held, in Caracas March 6, 2013. The banner reads, "Chavez, we will love you forever." (Reuters / Jorge Silva)

Caps and posters of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez lie on the hood of the hearse that carried his coffin to the Military Academy, where his wake will be held, in Caracas March 6, 2013 (Reuters / Jorge Silva)

View of the hearse carrying the coffin of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez while leaving the Military Hospital to the Military Academy, on March 6, 2013, in Caracas (AFP Photo / Luis Camocho)

Handout picture released by Miraflores presidential palace press office showing an aerial view of the funeral cortege of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on its way to the Military Academy, on March 6, 2013, in Caracas (AFP Photo)

Handout picture released by Miraflores presidential palace press office showing an aerial view of the funeral cortege of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on its way to the Military Academy, on March 6, 2013, in Caracas (AFP Photo)


Comments (69)

 

Phil Lenton 08.03.2013 21:25

Farewell Comandante
Ailie Bick and myself had the pleasure to see you speak and sing in Caracas
Sleep well, la luze continua!

Anonymous user 08.03.2013 05:24

sodium fluride and other substances have been used for a long time now to put people out.

Anonymous user 08.03.2013 05:19

chavez died of heart attack not cancer, i think he has been killed. they do a lot of stuff like that

View all comments (69)
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