Venezuela rules out embalming Chavez
The Venezuelan government has scrapped plans to embalm the body of late president Hugo Chavez, Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas says.
"We have ruled out the option of embalming the body of comandante Chavez after a Russian medical commission report," that determined the procedure would require the body to be sent to Russia and stay there for at least seven months, Villegas wrote.
The body of Chavez was moved on Friday from Venezuela's Military Academy to the site of a planned Museum of the Bolivarian Revolution.
Cavalry officers in 19th-century uniforms carried the coffin into the academy's courtyard, where more than 1000 cadets rendered honours to the one-time paratrooper.
Chavez, 58, died on March 5 after a nearly two-year battle with cancer and his state funeral took place last Friday, but authorities decided to keep the glass-covered coffin at the military academy for an extra week to give as many people as possible the chance to pay their final respects.
Leading the procession across the courtyard to the street were the dead president's parents, accompanied by other family members, senior officials and Venezuela's military brass.
Bolivian President Evo Morales, one of the more than 30 world leaders who attended last week's state funeral, was also present as the cadets sang the traditional military anthem "Patria querida" (Beloved Homeland) and canons fired volleys.
Combat aircraft flew over the academy during the ceremony, which followed a Mass and remarks by Chavez mentor Major General Jacinto Perez Arcay, National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello and one of the late president's daughters, Maria Gabriela Chavez.
First elected in 1998, Hugo Chavez won another six-year term in last October's presidential contest.
He took to the airwaves two months later to tell Venezuelans he was travelling to Cuba for a fourth operation to deal with the cancer that was diagnosed in June 2011.
The man Chavez designated as his successor, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, became acting head of state last week and will represent the governing PSUV party in next month's special election.