22 heads of state to attend Chavez's funeral

Updated: 2013-03-08 10:03


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22 heads of state to attend Chavez's funeral

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez (L), her Uruguayan counterpart Jose Mujica (2nd L) and her Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales (3rd L) stand next to the coffin of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during a wake at the military academy in Caracas March 6, 2013, in this picture provided by the Miraflores Palace. [Photo/Agencies]

CARACAS - Twenty-two heads of state have confirmed to travel to Venezuela for attending the funeral of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez scheduled to take place Friday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua announced Thursday.

Most of them will be arriving in town in the coming hours, said the top Venezuelan diplomat.  

The presidents of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez, of Uruguay, Jose "Pepe" Mujica, and of Bolivia, Evo Morales, who arrived here Wednesday, were made a guard of honor before the coffin of Chavez. Morales walked along with the executive vice president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, about eight kilometers, accompanied by thousands of Venezuelans, as the remains of Chavez was transferred from the Military Hospital to the Military Academy, where the late president lies in state before Friday's funeral.

The body of Chavez is covered by the Venezuelan national flag and protected by a glass casket.  

The Venezuelan diplomat made the announcement outside the Military Academy where endless long queues formed by thousands of Venezuelans kept coming to pay last respects to Chavez starting late Wednesday.

Meanwhile, 54 high-level international delegations made confirmation of their attendance at Chavez's funeral on behalf of their respective governments or organizations, Jaua said via the state-run television channel VTV.

According to Jaua, the Venezuelan government has received messages of condolences from 42 countries, of which, 16 have decreed national mourning, something unprecedented in the world. Ten international organizations have also sent messages of solidarity with Venezuela.

The Venezuelan official also reiterated the democratic continuity and strength of Venezuelan institutions in the absence of the head of state.

"The political leadership remains under the leadership of Vice President, Nicolas Maduro, the high command of Venezuelan military, the Venezuelan government, we will enforce the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. We are able to ensure peace and stability of our country," Jaua said.  

Chavez died Tuesday at the age of 58 after a two-year battle with cancer which was first detected in his pelvis.

Two days after Chavez's death, markets, financial institutions and mass transit resumed business on Thursday, but classes at all levels were closed and would remain so through the funeral of Chavez on Friday, said local sources.