Maduro: Chavez long-term embalming unlikely
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuela's acting president said Wednesday it is highly unlikely that Hugo Chavez will be embalmed for permanent viewing because the decision to do so was made too late and the late socialist leader's body was not properly prepared on time.
"The decision should have been made much earlier," Nicolas Maduro said during a speech at a government-run book fair. "The decision, or really the proposal more than a decision, was made as a product of love."
President Chavez died on March 5. The decision to preserve his body permanently was announced two days later.
His embalmed body was to be put on display at a military museum on a hill a mile from the presidential palace, where it was to have been transferred on Friday.
Maduro suggested the body would still be placed there.
"The world's best" experts, Russian and Germans, were brought in and consulted on the embalming and advised authorities that it was probably not possible, said Maduro. He did not go into detail.
The idea of placing Chavez on permanent display, like Vladimir Lenin, Ho Chi Minh and Mao Zedong as Maduro said when he announced it, was influenced by visiting leaders, he said.
Maduro did not name the leaders but Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia, Jose Mujica of Uruguay and Cristina Fernandez of Argentina all arrived in Venezuela the day after Chavez died.
Maduro said that regardless of what authorities decided to do with the body "we will have our comandante open so that our people can accompany him permanently."
"His place of Christian rest will be a most beautiful place, it is already a most beautiful place," he added.
In several videos recorded before his death, Chavez is seen saying he wishes to be buried in Sabaneta, his hometown.