Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro has announced that the late President Hugo Chavez will be embalmed and his body displayed forever in a Caracas military museum.
Mr. Maduro compared the late president to other revolutionary leaders whose bodies also have been preserved, including Russia's Lenin and China's Mao. He said President Chavez will lie in state for seven more days to give more Venezuelans the chance to pay their respect.
President Chavez will be honored at a state funeral Friday, attended by 30 heads of state. The United States is sending a diplomatic delegation.
Thousands of grieving Venezuelans waited for as long as 10 hours to look at Mr. Chavez's body in Caracas.
Mr. Maduro will be formally sworn in as acting president late Friday. He will likely face off in elections to be called within 30 days against opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who lost to Mr. Chavez in the October presidential polls.
President Chavez died Tuesday after a two-year fight against cancer. He was 58 years old.
Mr. Chavez, a staunch socialist, was elected president in 1998. He earned the enmity of the United States and others for such policies as nationalizing major companies and courting world leaders such as Fidel Castro, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Libya's Moammar Gadhafi.
The country's opposition accused him of being a dictator. But millions of poor Venezuelans revered him for using the country's vast oil wealth to give them access to low-cost food, free medical care and other social programs. However, experts say Mr. Chavez failed to control crime or use oil wealth to enrich the overall economy.