Thousands of Venezuelans have come out onto the streets of Caracas to pay tribute to President Hugo Chavez, who died on Tuesday.
Hugo Chavez’s coffin set off in a procession to the Military Academy, where he will lie in state till Friday.
The government has announced seven days of mourning for President Hugo Chavez, who died aged 58 after 14 years in the post.
Hugo Chavez, a controversial figure and staunch critic of the US, was seriously ill with cancer for more than a year.
A self-proclaimed revolutionary, he inspired a left-wing revival across Latin America.
Latin American leaders have begun arriving in Caracas to pay their respects – among them President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina, Jose Mujica of Uruguay and Evo Morales of Bolivia.
Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile, Cuba and the Caribbean island of Dominica have declared periods of official mourning.
Another Hugo Chavez ally, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also announced a day of mourning, describing him as a “martyr”.
Military units across the country have fired a 21-gun salute in his honor. They will fire another cannon shot each hour until he is buried, the armed forces said.
All schools and universities have been shut for the week.
On Wednesday morning, a priest prayed for eternal rest for Hugo Chavez in a brief ceremony at the hospital where he died on Tuesday.
Officials then put the flag-draped coffin on top of a waiting hearse surrounded by crowds.
The procession began its slow journey through the streets of the city, led by officials including Vice-President Nicolas Maduro and accompanied by cheering red-clad supporters.
Some shouted “Chavez to the pantheon”, referring to the mausoleum he built for revolutionary leader Simon Bolivar.