The Lookout

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez may not be embalmed for eternity after all

The Lookout

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The glass-topped casket of Hugo Chavez lying in state at the military academy in Caracas, March 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Miraflores …

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who died on March 5, was larger than life. But he may not be preserved in death.

Officials are now saying the embalming process may not have been started soon enough to conserve the body, NBC News is reporting.

The South American communist leader died last week after a two-year battle with cancer. An endless stream of mourners have filed past his glass-topped coffin to get a glimpse of their former leader lying in state wearing a green uniform and red beret at the Caracas military academy. The government had publicly declared that the body of the late president would be embalmed “for eternity.”

Officials wanted to treat him ““just like Ho Chi Minh, like Lenin, like Mao,” according to Venezuela’s acting president, Nicolas Maduro.

But that may not come to pass. According to NBC, Maduro announced in televised remarks, "Russian and German scientists have arrived to embalm Chavez and they tell us it's very difficult because the process should have started earlier. ... Maybe we can't do it.” He added,"We are in the middle of the process. It's complicated, it's my duty to inform you."

Hugo Chavez was both reviled and revered. He was especially admired by the nation’s poor, who were the beneficiaries of the 58-year-old leader’s socialist policies.

Cuba's longtime leader who stepped down for health reasons, Fidel Castro, looked at Chavez as a kindred spirit: Venezuela supplied Cuba with billions of dollars worth of cheap oil. On Monday, Castro said the country had lost its “best friend.”

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