Hugo Chavez to be embalmed, put in military museum for public viewing

When the funeral for former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez ends Friday, the leader won’t be buried underground.

In a surprise announcement, the government said Chavez will be embalmed and his preserved body will be put on display in a “crystal urn” in a military museum for public viewing.

Acting President Nicolas Maduro made the announcement Thursday, using state television to say: “It has been decided that the body of the comandante will be embalmed so that it remains eternally on view for the people at the museum.”

Chavez’s body will be treated like other famous leftist leaders. “Just like Lenin. Just like Mao Zedong,” Maduro said.

Chavez, 58, died Tuesday from cancer. He lead the country for 16 years and was re-elected to another six-year term in October 2012, but was never sworn in due to his illness.

More than 30 heads of state were expected to attend Chavez’s funeral, including Cuban President Raul Castro and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.