Chavez died last week at 58 after a two-year battle with cancer,and his body has been put on display in a glass-topped coffin at amilitary academy in the Venezuelan capital Caracas. Millions ofpeople have visited to pay homage to the flamboyant lateleader.The Venezuelan government had said it wanted to embalm his body“for eternity,” in much the same way as Lenin and Stalin andChinese leader Mao Zedong.“We are in the middle of the process, it’s complicated.Russian and German scientists have arrived to embalm Chavez andthey tell us it’s very difficult because the process should havestarted earlier. Maybe we can’t do it,” President Maduro saidin televised comments on Wednesday.The scientists may have started the process too late; anannouncement will be made later this week as to whether the teamwill be able to immortalize the late Chavez.A state funeral was held last week for the controversial lateleader, during which world leaders and celebrities paid theirrespects. However, the largest outpouring of emotion by far hascome from Chavez’s millions of poor supporters in Venezuela, manyof whom viewed him with a kind of religious awe.This collective mood was summed up by President Maduro when headdressed a crowd at the opening of the Book Fair of Venezuela inCaracas: “More than your physical body, we have the commander ineternal memory, especially this generation who heard it, touchedit, saw him. We have to keep alive his image, his voice, histhinking.”Maduro and his supporters from the United Socialist Party ofVenezuela sang along to a recording of Chavez belting out thenational anthem.“I am not Chavez, but I am his son. And all together, thepeople, we are Chavez,” Maduro said.A presidential election has been scheduled in Venezuela forApril 14, and Maduro filed papers last Monday to officially run forpresident.Though Maduro belongs to Chavez’s political party, oppositioncandidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, 40, will be a strongopponent. “My fight is not to be president. My fight is forVenezuela to move forward,” Capriles said Sunday night.Capriles ran against Chavez in last October’s election and lost,but it was the fiercest challenge to the former president’s ruleduring his 14 years in power.
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