Caracas, Venezuela - 7 March 2013

1. Cuban President, Raul Castro, walking alongside Venezuelan acting President, Nicolas Maduro, in military academy where Chavez is lying in state

2. Castro embracing Chavez's mother, Elena Chavez Frias

3. Mid of Chavez casket lying in state

4. Zoom out of Castro standing before Chavez's casket paying his respects and doing a military salute

5. Wide of Chavez casket lying in state


Heads of state from across Latin America on Thursday paid their respects at the military academy where late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's coffin is lying in state.

Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, Cuban President, Raul Castro, and Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, were among those who were accompanied by acting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro inside the military academy.

Castro embraced Chavez's mother, Elena Chavez Frias, for several moments then stood before Chavez's casket and gave him a military salute.

Meanwhile, large masses of people continue to line up in front of the building to see the body of the late leader.

Some waited up 10 hours in the searing sun through the evening for a chance to file past Chavez's coffin and pay their respects.

Chavez's body will embalmed and held in a "crystal urn" forever on display at the Museum of the Revolution near the Miraflores presidential palace, according to Venezuelan Vice President, acting head of state Maduro.

"This is an excellent idea because by doing so our president becomes an icon and it's forbidden to forget him," said Glena Mendoza, a Chavez supporter waiting in line on Thursday to see Chavez lying in state.

Maduro said Chavez would first lie in state for "at least" seven more days at the museum, which will eventually become his permanent home.

It was not clear when exactly he would be moved from the military academy where his body has been since Wednesday.

Venezuelan soldiers have been firing a cannon each hour until Chavez is laid to rest.

Maduro said the state funeral would begin at 11:00 am local time (15:30GMT), but did not say where.

More than 30 heads of government are expected to attend the funeral.

Among the world leaders attending the funeral is Castro.

Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to arrive Thursday tonight in Venezuela.

A US delegation is also scheduled to attend the state funeral.

US Representative Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat, and former Representative William Delahunt, a Democrat from Massachusetts, will represent the United States.

Chavez often portrayed the US as a great global evil even though he sent the country billions of dollars in oil each year.

Chavez was re-elected in October but never sworn in.

It's not immediately clear when presidential elections will be held.

Chavez died on Tuesday at age 58 following a nearly two-year bout with cancer.