(CARACAS, Venezuela) — As world leaders, mainly from Latin America and the Caribbean, are gathering in Caracas ahead of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s funeral Friday, large crowds of mourners coming to pay their respects have assembled in the capital city where he is lying in state. On Thursday, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said Chavez, who died Tuesday after battling cancer, will remain on display permanently.
Now the country’s acting president, Nicolas Maduro said the deceased president will be embalmed and permanently displayed “like Lenin” after Friday’s funeral, referring to Soviet Premier Vladimir Lenin, whose embalmed body has been on public display in Moscow since his death in 1924. Maduro added that after lying in state for at least another seven days, Chavez’s body will go on display in a glass casket at the Museum of the Revolution so that “his people will always have him.”
According to BBC News, more than 2 million mourners, many of them waiting for hours, have already come to view Chavez’s body.
Friday’s state funeral, attended by heads of government, is expected to begin around 9 a.m. ET.
The United States is sending a delegation to the funeral, but no senior officials from the administration will be in attendance. The State Department has confirmed that the U.S. delegation to the funeral will include former U.S. Reps. William Delahunt, D-Mass., and Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., as well as U.S. Embassy Caracas Chargé d’Affaires James Derham.
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Barbie Latza Nadeau, Tim Hume and Vasco Cotovio, CNN
Marisa Russell, CNN
Holly Yan and Nadeem Muaddi, CNN