CARACAS, Venezuela, March 16 (UPI) -- Venezuela has decided not to embalm the body of the late President Hugo Chavez and put it on display, the government's information minister says.
In a Twitter message, Ernesto Villegas said embalming had been ruled out after Russian medical advisers said the body would have to be transported to Russia and remain there for several months, CNN reported Friday.
Acting President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday the embalming process was "quite difficult and that the decision "should have been taken much earlier."
A hearse carrying Chavez's casket was accompanied by thousands of Venezuelans Friday as it traveled 7 1/2 miles from the Military Academy to the Military Museum in Caracas, RIA Novosti reported.
The casket was placed in a marble sarcophagus that was to be available for access Saturday to anyone who wanted to pay tribute to Chavez, who died March 5 at age 58 after a two-year battle with cancer.
Presidential elections are scheduled for April 14.