Acting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said Wednesday that it would be "rather difficult" to embalm the body of Hugo Chávez because the decision to do so was made too late and the procedure was not started in time.

Maduro said that Russian and German experts arrived in Venezuela to help with the embalming process but that "the scientific news and the opinions" among the group were that "it's going to be rather difficult for it to be that way, because the preparations needed to be started and the decision (to do so) should have been made much sooner."

He said that the decision or "proposal" to embalm Chávez was made "as a product of love" and arose in conversations with some of the heads of state who attended the former president's funeral service last Friday, as well as by members of Venezuela's political-military leadership.

"We want to tell our people in a responsible way, so that we know that suddenly it cannot be done," Maduro added.

He said that the embalming process had been started and the foreign scientists came to Caracas to help out with it but that he has "the maximum responsibility to report about these steps."

"So that everyone knows that there are difficulties and those difficulties could prevent doing what was done with Lenin, Ho Chi Minh or Mao Zedong," he added.

He invited the public to keep the "comandante in eternal remembrance," adding that "we must keep his image alive, his voice, his thoughts, we must have him alive."

On March 7, two days after Chávez died after a 21-month battle with cancer, Maduro announced that the former president's body would be "eternally" embalmed and put on public display in a glass coffin at a special mausoleum.

However, the body has lain in state for a week now at the Military Academy where thousands of people have come to file past it and pay their last respects to the socialist leader.

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