While many of those interviewed near the old barracks expressed support for Maduro’s plan to exhibit an embalmed Chávez there, a few did not.
“I do not agree with the decision to display Chávez,” said Alfonso Alagare, a 23 de Enero resident interviewed while sipped coffee at a newsstand about a mile from the 4F barracks. “He should be buried so he can rest in peace, the peace he never had because he was always struggling.”
Alagare did not say where Chávez should be buried. But many of Chávez’s supporters have called for their leader to be buried in the National Pantheon, where Venezuelan independence hero Simon Bolivar is buried.
Whether to bury Chávez or display his embalmed body permanently appears to have caused a rift among Venezuelan government officials.
On Friday, the president of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, publicly insisted on burying Chávez at the National Pantheon, a statement that ran counter to Maduro’s plan to display the embalmed body at the 4F barracks.
While soldiers did not allow media visits to the barracks, people who have toured the site say it’s a military museum. The visitors recalled seeing weapons, uniforms and other military equipment from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Built under the government of President Cipriano Castro, the facility opened in 1910 serving initially as Venezuela’s first military academy. In the 1940s, it became the defense ministry and in 1981, the site became a museum of military history.
After Chávez was first elected president in 1998, he turned the site into a revered shrine to recall the 1992 failed coup and the giant 4F sign was installed.
When the coup failed, Chávez was arrested and jailed but in 1994 he was freed. He then launched his political movement that culminated in his first election as president in 1998. He took office in January 1999.
Maduro said last week that the 4F Barracks will be known as the Museum of the Revolution to commemorate Chávez’s 14 years in power.