Dozens of world leaders and diplomats are joining thousands of Venezuelans in the streets of Caracas for the funeral service of Hugo Chavez today. The massive memorial ceremony is being held at the national military academy, after throngs of citizens spent the last two days in a round-the-clock vigil, lining up for hours to view the former president's casket lying in state.
Those who missed the ceremonies need not worry, however. They will have plenty of chances to see the former leader, since he is not going to be buried. Officials announced yesterday that Chavez will be embalmed and his body placed on display "for eternity"—à la those other charismatic socialist statesmen: Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Kim Jong-il.
Among the 30 heads of state in attendance will be Cuba's Raul Castro, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, President Daniel Ortega of Nicaraqua; and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who arrived late last night. The only other leader not from Central or South America is Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, though there are diplomats from about two dozen other nations. Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York and former Rep. William Delahunt of Massachusetts will represent the United States.
Below is a live stream of the proceedings taken directly from Venezuelan TV. It's in Spanish, but English-only speakers can still admire the images.