The day was scheduled for an inauguration celebration. It could easily have become an occasion for mourning, possibly even a day of conflict. Instead there was a peaceful rally for a missing president, Hugo Chávez, and a giant question mark over what happens next.
With flags, banners, klaxons and vuvuzelas, more than 100,000 Chávez supporters thronged in the streets outside Venezuela's presidential palace, Miraflores, and filled the air with noise, colour and emotion as if to make up for the gap left by the man who has dominated this space for the past 14 years.
Wearing the emblematic red shirts of the ruling party, and clutching posters printed with their leader's image and the slogan "We are all Chávez!", the crowd made their way to the same balcony where three months ago they celebrated with their president after his fourth election victory.