Hundreds of thousands of mourners have flooded the streets of the Caracas to honour Hugo Chavez.
The Venezuelan capital was brought to a standstill as the charismatic President's coffin was paraded through the city.
Chavez's body will lie in state until Friday when it will be given a state funeral.
There were emotional scenes as the his grieving mother wept over his coffin as it was taken from a military hospital.
Soldiers placed his body on a car which was driven out of the grounds as the flag-waving crowds chanted "Chávez to the pantheon!", Reuters reported.
The coffin of Hugo Chavez
Vice president, Nicolas Maduro, paid tribute, saying, "His spirit roams freely, filled with light protecting our people.
"Our people are in the streets expressing their solidarity, their feelings."
The icononic president died on Tuesday aged 58, and seven days of mourning have been declared.
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Reaction to the news and assessments of his legacy have been sharply divided around the world.
But on Wednesday, tearful people waving a sea of red flags symbolised the huge outpouring of grief as the coffin appeared.
The military had called for calm and said it would remain loyal to the vice president.
And it was reported that riot police were standing guard outside a television channel with a history of criticising Chavez.
Meanwhile, other South American leaders have arrived in Caracas to pay their respects.