Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday compared Hugo Chavez to Christ and said that the late president, just like Jesus, "came to protect those who had nothing," in a tribute to the fallen leader on the fifth anniversary of his death.
"Christ the Redeemer became flesh ... became truth in Chavez," said Maduro from the Cuartel de la Montaña in western Caracas, where Chavez's remains rest, in a ceremony broadcast carried on all radio and television networks.
Maduro said that Chavez had the same qualities as Christ, felt an affinity for the poor and the humble and came to protect them.
The president presided at the tribute to Chavez accompanied by most of his Cabinet and some of the government's candidates for the municipal elections next December.
"We have come ... to say to you that this love (for you) will continue to be converted into action," said Maduro, directing his words to Chavez, and going on to call for "the union of the entire people."
He also said that, despite the fact that losing the "soul and light of the Bolivarian Revolution" had been the shock of a lifetime, "Chavez lives."
Chavez died on March 5 in Caracas at age 58, after battling an undisclosed form of abdominal cancer for 20 months and undergoing four operations in Cuba.
The tribute on Monday comes after others organized by the government last week, when Chavez - who governed Venezuela from 1999 to 2013 - would have celebrated his 59th birthday.
His death, which came shortly after the beginning of his fourth term in office, forced the calling of new elections in which Maduro prevailed over opposition candidate Henrique Capriles by a narrow margin of just over 200,000 votes. EFE