Mérida, 15th March (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The body of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was today moved in a formal procession to a new resting place, amid tributes from national and international figures.
Following his death last Tuesday 5 March after a prolonged battle with cancer, Chavez’s body had been resting in the Fuerte Tiuna Military Academy in Caracas, where millions from around the country queued for days to pass by and leave a final message.
Today Chavez’s body was transferred in a formal procession to the 4th February Museum of Military History, where it will remain for the time being. Thousands accompanied the procession through the streets of Caracas.
The 4th February Museum, also known as the Barracks on the Mountain, is the site from which Chavez launched the 4 February 1992 civil-military rebellion against the neoliberal government of Carlos Andres Perez. It is located within a district of the city known for its high level of grassroots organisation, called 23 de Enero.
Earlier this week, acting president Nicolas Maduro confirmed that it is “highly unlikely” that Chavez’s body will be embalmed as originally considered, as the proper preparations have not been done and too much time has now passed since Chavez’s death.
Many Venezuelans would like Chavez’s body to eventually be interred in the National Pantheon, reserved for national heroes such as the country’s founder, Simon Bolivar.
In a formal ceremony in the 4th February Museum, which was broadcast to the country, national and international figures paid tribute to the life of Hugo Chavez.
Bolivian president Evo Morales said that Chavez “has left us a great task, a great mission, a marked path…the goal is the liberation of our peoples”.
“Brother Hugo, don’t abandon us; of course you won’t abandon us, you will continue being a source of inspiration as you have been up to now,” he continued.
Meanwhile Nicolas Maduro, who is Chavez’s chosen successor to replace him as president, praised Chavez’s legacy and qualities.
“Mission accomplished Comandante! Fully accomplished: with pain, with sacrifice, not even sickness stopping him. Nothing stopped him, and no-one is going to stop our people,” he said.
Maduro, who will contest a snap presidential election against the opposition’s Henrique Capriles on 14 April, also spoke of the importance of continuing the Bolivarian project which Chavez led.
“Fellow men and women, now it’s up to us…let’s construct socialism, which is the kingdom of Christ, [a kingdom] of equality and truth, on earth,” he said.
Chavez’s brother Adan and daughter Maria Gabriela also spoke. Adan Chavez, who is the governor of Barinas, likewise spoke of the need to continue his brother’s political project.
“The people can be sure that due to the instructions of our Comandante, we won’t fail him,” he said.
In what was an emotive speech, he added, “We’ll construct Bolivarian socialism and we’ll arrive at the point of no return. Nothing and no-one will stop it”.