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Venezuelans bid farewell to Chavez


09:10, March 07, 2013

CARACAS, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Tens of thousands of Venezuelan mourners took to the streets of Caracas Wednesday, as the coffin carrying the body of late President Hugo Chavez proceeded through the city.

The funeral march starts from the Military Hospital in Caracas, where Chavez spent his last moments fighting for his life.

The march is scheduled to reach the Military Academy of Venezuela Bolivarian Army, where a tribute is planned to be paid to the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution.

Chavez died Tuesday at 16:25 local time (20:55 GMT) after struggling for nearly two years against a severe cancer in the pelvic area.

Regardless of the harsh sunshine, tens of thousands of Venezuelans dressed in red shirts underneath black and crowded arterial roads surrounding the hospital for the ceremony.

The tribute began with a discreet Catholic religious ceremony at the main gate of the hospital, followed by the a marching band playing the song "beloved country" by singer Ali Primera, the last song Chavez sang in public

Hostesses and the presidential honor guard led the wooden coffin with the remains of Chavez to cross the Venezuelan capital.

During the tour, sad faces of men and women were seen everywhere along with inconsolable crying as if it were the death of a close relative. Other attendees sang protest songs, shouted slogans, the national anthem or the name of Chavez.

"Chavez the Pantheon, along with Simon" shouted a crowd in reference to the National Pantheon, a building in the center of the capital where the remains of Simon Bolivar, hero of the independence of Venezuela, were placed.

The coffin was placed by several soldiers on the roof of a vehicle decorated with white flowers. Ahead of the car were several motorcycles clearing the way while the crowd was pressing behind. Some ministers seemed to be holding the urn.

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro wore a jacket with the tricolor of the national flag, accompanying Bolivian President Evo Morales and his partner, the National Attorney General of the Cilia Flores.

Tarek El Aissami, governor of the central state of Aragua, and Rafael Ramirez, Minister of Mines and Petroleum, also participated since leaving the mortal body of Chavez, who had ruled Venezuela for 14 years, re-elected again for another six years.

Chavez's supporters will accompany the hearse to Los Heroes and carry out a military parade and other tributes along the iconic avenue two miles long and 700 meters wide.

The remains of the president will reach finally the Military Academy at Fort Tiuna military town of Caracas, where he will be received by the military high command and the executive cabinet.

More than 10 leaders from different countries have confirmed their attendance for Chavez's funeral to be held in Caracas on Friday.

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