As the political ramifications of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's death remained uncertain, his followers demonstrated Wednesday in plazas nationwide to show they support a continuation of his policies.
"Take my life, Lord, but don't take that of the president!" wailed an older woman who was among a group of mourners in Bolivar Square in Sabaneta in Barinas State, Chavez's birthplace in the country's northwest. "Without him, we are left with nothing. He's the only president who has helped us."
"I'm the beneficiary of education, I'm the beneficiary of an honorable, beautiful house, I'm the beneficiary of an honorable job," said a woman in her 20s. "President, wherever you are, we are going to miss you forever."
"I hope we will continue down the path that he showed us," said one man. "Let's continue with socialism, because that is the only path. Commandant Chavez lives and will live in our hearts."
Thousands of Venezuelans lined the streets of the capital, Caracas, Wednesday morning as Chavez's remains were taken from the military hospital where he died to the Fuerte Tiuna Military Academy.
Soldiers held Chavez's simple wooden casket, which was draped with the national flag, as a priest recited a prayer and blessing over it. The casket was placed atop a hearse, which was festooned with flowers and wreaths and driven slowly toward the military academy.
The streets transformed into a sea of green and red, as soldiers and red-clad supporters followed the procession.
Some wept as the casket passed in front of them, while others stretched out their arms to take pictures with their phones.
"Chavez to the pantheon! Chavez to the pantheon!" the crowd chanted, referring to the country's National Pantheon, which houses the remains of Chavez's hero, South American liberator Simon Bolivar, and other Venezuelan luminaries.
The body's arrival at the academy, where it is to lie in state until Friday morning's state funeral, was broadcast live on state television.