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Venezuela’s Chavez May Not Receive Lenin-Like Embalmment

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March 13 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died March 5 from cancer, may not be preserved for permanent display after embalmment preparations started late, acting President Nicolas Maduro said on state television.

“The preparations had to begin and the decision had to be taken much earlier,” Maduro said today in Caracas, citing Russian and German scientists currently in Venezuela. “Scientific news and opinions tell us it will be very difficult for this to happen.”

Heads of state visiting for Chavez’s funeral first suggested embalming the leader’s body, Maduro said. Like Ho Chi Minh, Lenin and Mao Zedong, Chavez’s body would be embalmed for display at the Museum of the Revolution in a special glass urn as a permanent tribute to the socialist revolutionary, Maduro said March 7. The remains of Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet Union, lie embalmed in Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow.

The country’s National Assembly yesterday postponed voting to call a referendum on whether to bury Chavez alongside his hero, South American liberator Simon Bolivar, in the National Pantheon. As Chavez’s chosen successor, Maduro will face in next month’s election opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, who lost to Chavez by 11 percentage points in October.

“What’s true is that more than his physical body, we have to keep comandante Chavez in our eternal memory,” Maduro said. “We should keep alive his image, voice and thought.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jose Orozco in Caracas at jorozco8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net