Chavez Everywhere in Venezuela A Year After Death

Wednesday marks a year since the death of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, but his presence seems to be everywhere in the country.

National guard troops have used a recording of Chavez reciting poetry played at high volume to disperse protesters in Caracas, and his portrait is still seen on many buildings. On Tuesday, workers for the state oil company were putting a fresh coat of paint on Chavez's mausoleum in preparation for those expected to flock to the site.

The anniversary follows weeks of sometimes violent protests that have left 18 dead.

Chavez died on March 5, 2013, after a long battle with cancer and chose Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader to be his successor. It has not been a smooth transition. Inflation hit 56 percent last year, there are shortages of basic commodities such as cooking oil and flour and one of the highest murder rates in the world keeps people locked inside their homes at night.

Though protesters refuse to leave the streets, Maduro appears ready to use Chavez's status to steady his rule.

A military parade followed by a remembrance ceremony at Chavez's mausoleum and the debut of director Oliver Stone's documentary, "My Friend Hugo" will be part of the Wednesday celebrations.

"For me, he was something great," said Felida Mora, who travels to Caracas from Los Teques at least once a month to pray nearby at an improvised tin-roof St. Hugo Chavez Chapel in the 23rd of January slum. The small structure is painted red and white and contains a plaster bust of Chavez beneath a poster of the departed leader and Jesus Christ.

"I have cried a lot for him, more than for my family," Mora said.

--Associated Press