The eternally-controversial and locally beloved Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was formally laid to rest in a state funeral Friday. The ceremony attracted throngs of mourners and dozens of world leaders to Caracas.
Chavez, who died at 58 on Tuesday after a prolonged battle against cancer, will now lie in state at a military museum for the next week. Then his body will be embalmed and placed on permanent display, in a fashion reminiscent of the preserved bodies of Lenin and Mao, says Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's acting president.
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Among the international leaders paying their respects to Chavez were Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva; Cuban President Raul Castro; Rafel Correa of Ecuador; and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro is set to be sworn in immediately following the funeral, while elections for a new Venezuelan premier must be held within 30 days per the Venezuelan constitution.
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Of the turnout of mourning Chavistas on Friday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua told Reuters:
"A thousand thanks for the posthumous tributes to a man who fought for world peace, for unity in Latin America and the Caribbean, and for the democratization of global institutions."
He added: "The show of love for the president has been incredible."