Venezuela prepares to bid farewell to Chavez

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Venezuela prepares to bid farewell to Chavez

Venezuela prepares to bid farewell to Chavez
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The coffin carrying body of Hugo Chavez has been taken to lie in state at a military academy in Caracas.

The 58-year-old former President of Venezuela died on Tuesday after a two-year battle against cancer.

A state funeral will be held on Friday.

The presidents of Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia have already flown in and held a vigil by the coffin.

They are due to be joined by other regional leaders for Friday’s funeral.

Earlier, there were unprecedented scenes on the streets as a sea of Chavez supporters surrounded his coffin on its journey through Caracas.

The hearse was draped in Venezuela’s blue, red and yellow flag.

“The legacy of Chavez is that our country has woken up,” one woman said. “We have woken up as a people, because we were the sleeping victims of social injustice.”

“He was an extraordinary man,” added another man. “God sent him to us and now we have him and he will always be with us in our hearts.”

Chavez’ socialist policies won him the adoration of poor Venezuelans.

But they infuriated opponents who denounced him as a dictator.

The test will come when acting President and Chavez man Nicolas Maduro faces centrist Henrique Capriles in an election now due in the next few weeks.