CARACAS, Venezuela — Hugo Chavez's body will be preserved and forever displayed inside a glass tomb at a military museum not far from the presidential palace from which he ruled for 14 years, his successor announced Thursday in a Caribbean version of the treatment given Communist revolutionary leaders like Lenin, Mao and Ho Chi Minh.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's acting head of state, said Chavez would first lie in state for "at least" another seven days at the museum, where his body will be moved from the military academy where he was brought Wednesday.
A sea of sobbing mourners jammed the academy Thursday to see Chavez's body, some waiting 10 hours to file past his coffin.
As they reached the coffin, many placed a hand on their heart or stiffly saluted. Some held up children to see Chavez's face.
A state funeral will be held today, attended by 33 heads of government including Cuban President Raul Castro and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., and former Rep. William Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democra, will represent the United States, which Chavez often portrayed as a great global evil even as he sent billions of dollars in oil each year.
After the funeral, Maduro will be sworn in as acting president after the funeral, officials said Thursday night.
Maduro said Chavez's body would be held in a "crystal urn" at the Museum of the Revolution, a stone's throw from Miraflores presidential palace.
"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," Maduro said.