Original art by @modográfico

What Óscar Pérez never managed in life becoming a true threat to the regime , he is now doing in death. The government’s unseemly rush to destroy the evidence, its wanton abuse of the remains, the whole saga of a mother humiliated when she sought nothing more than to bury her son, have given Pérez a resonance he never really achieved alive. His death, and particularly the way the government managed its aftermath, turned Óscar Pérez into a symbol that won’t be easily forgotten in a country that took all the outrage in a rather personal way.

Starting last June, when he shook Venezuela’s public opinion by commandeering a police helicopter and shooting at the Supreme Tribunal headquarters in Caracas, Óscar Pérez was subject of deep interest and not little derision.

To the government, he was always a terrorist; to the rest of public opinion, a riddle, a prócer, a madman or a joke. Even after Pérez breached a GNB outpost, stealing high caliber guns and grenade launchers, his movement seemed comically outmatched by a totalitarian regime awash with guns and petrodollars. He wanted to build a David & Goliath narrative, but to it looked like Bambi & Godzilla.

Operation Gideon the government’s name for the murderous raid was stained by abuse since its start; Pérez’s videos surrendering, Lisbeth Ramírez’s audio asking her family to pray for her, the open participation of pro-government paramilitary groups with police IDs and even the video of a GNB officer using an RPG-7 against Pérez’ hideout quickly made it through Venezuelan social networks, making the official version of the killings being the result of the official forces’ self-defense, hard to believe.

To the government, he was always a terrorist; to the rest of public opinion, a riddle, a prócer, a madman or a joke.

But it was the government’s ruthlessness in handling his death that gave Pérez the relevance he had been seeking since his famous helicopter escapade.

After a 24 hours delay, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol, revealed the identities of the seven rebels killed after accusing the opposition delegates in the Dominican Republic of revealing their whereabouts, indefinitely halting the already fragile negotiations. The Bello Monte morgue, where the bodies were kept was militarized on Monday night. Their relatives reported not being allowed to see or retrieve the bodies for burial and National Assembly lawmaker, Winston Flores, also said that bodies were allegedly wrapped in plastic to accelerate decomposition, as a way to force the families to sign an illegal cremation authorization.

Like Creon denying Antigone the right to bury her brother, the Government showed that to them, death is not enough. But as Sophocles knows, cruelty has the habit of backfiring.

The regime’s refusal to allow access to Pérez and his comrades’ bodies adds to the shocking list of Human Rights abuses reported here and abroad. The suspicion that they’d been straight-up executed only grew after leaked photographs of their death certificates revealed all rebels were shot in the head.

After five days of agonizing confusion, a Military Attorney authorized the burials without informing their families. Two of them, Abraham Agostini and José Alejandro Díaz Pimentel, were quickly buried in Caracas’ Eastern Cemetery, with only a few family members (informed of the process minutes earlier). The National Guard had to repel a small crowd at the entrance of the cemetery.

Like Creon denying Antigone the right to bury her brother, the Government showed that to them, death is not enough.

Hours later, Daniel Soto Torres and brothers Abraham and Jairo Lugo were buried in Maracaibo, under custody of the GNB.

Meanwhile, people met in Altamira in a demonstration organized by Voluntad Popular, to show their support to the grieving families. Shortly after, they marched to the morgue, where Pérez’s body still was, but they were stopped with tear gas and pellets.

Lisbeth Ramírez’ body was moved in a military helicopter to San Cristóbal, her hometown. Her family was never informed about its precise location and, after eight hours waiting, they buried her in La Consolación Cemetery, at 8:00 p.m. She was the first person to be buried there at night.

Oscar Pérez’s body remained in the morgue until Sunday, January 21st. Six days after his death.

He was buried in the early morning yesterday, with the sole company of his aunt and cousin, at Caracas’ Eastern Cemetery. The authorities chose an isolated part of the graveyard difficult to access by foot as location and, hours later, a crowd (including the parents of Neomar Lander, David Vallenilla and Juan Pablo Pernalete, all kids murdered during the 2017 protests) organized an emotive mass.

By showing the country how ruthless it can be and how little it cares about its rivals suffering, Nicolás Maduro’s government managed the sole thing Oscar Pérez couldn’t: It turned him, and his teammates, into the protagonists of every conversation, every Whatsapp chat, every family dinner and every line of people waiting for food.

They can kill the body, but not the message” concluded the priest in charge of Pérez’ rites. Countless flowers now adorn his small, isolated grave.

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31 COMMENTS

    • Where the death of tyrants is concerned, there are only three options:

      For all his heinous crimes, Mussolini at least had the dignity to face his end with courage. Maduro doesn’t have the balls for defiance in the face of death.

      The Nazis usually offed themselves rather than face justice. The coward’s way out, but one that still required resolve. Maduro’s also lacking in this area.

      No, when the time comes, he’ll just cry and piss his pants like Yezhov and Beria.

  1. “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” Abraham Lincoln.

    “When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty.” John Basil Barnhill.

    “I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.” Ronald Reagan.

    “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” Winston Churchill.

    “When plunder has become a way of life for a group of people living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it, and a moral code that glorifies it.” Frédéric Bastiat.

    • Sounds like you have done a lot of reading of a lot of intelligent people. Very admirable.

      It is increasingly interesting to me how so many people seem to “hang their hats” on relatively not-major things. It’s not easy for me to get this clear in my own mind, as I do the same things – the kids I have, friends I associate with, the clothes I wear, the car I drive, the gym I go to – I use these things and others as parking spots, as it were, to define my life and, I suppose, to pretend that these are enough and sufficient. Sounds normal, looks normal, must be normal. But are these things sufficient? You get the rock stars with millions of adoring fans, accountants to count all their money, lawyers to sort out their parking tickets, and one would logically conclude that “Rock Star” is sufficient. You get the “top level” executives for multinationals shuttling from home to office suite untouched by the rabble, and one might easily conclude that “Top Level” is sufficient. Yet both end up turning to philosophy and philosophers, when they find that “Rock Star” and “Top Level” leave one looking out from a hill top, wondering where to go.

      As people have noted here on this blog, it is values, really, or Aristotelean or Christian virtues, or any of many virtues found in common in religions and philosophies around the world, which men do, in fact, hang their hats on – whether they are consciously aware of this or not. Determining what is most important, and what is true, can be confusing, as great truths often seem in conflict with the confusions of “this mortal coil” (as Shakespeare put it). Great truths don’t seem very efficient in making rain fall on parched crops, nor in filling a gas tank. Living with virtues and truths is great company however, and somehow, other things beneath them seem to fall into place more easily. Losses and failures become easier to handle. Visions of futures seem more clear. Solutions seem easier to come by. Living on nothing more than thought, but finding the ones that are true. It seems easier for some than for others, but I guess that must be, as in so many things, a matter of practice.

      I was forced to forgo mud fights as a child, and made to study violin. I got out of that as soon as I could, btw, and made up for lost time in mud fights. I have heard a few times that accomplished musicians spend seven hours a day playing scales and exercises, in order to play one hour of pieces. That warning was enough for me. But I did see and hear accomplished violinists play. The finger board has no frets, yet it is possible to know exactly where to put one’s fingers, very quickly, on that vast expanse of ebony. To the Samurai, his sword is his soul and he speaks through it; to the violinist, his violin is his soul, and he speaks through it. Somehow, I sense the message must be similar, though the forms differ. Certainly the practice and discipline are similar. I watched a cellist (who played in symphony orchestras) play a piece of music written by J.S. Bach, solo. A friend. The guy entered another dimension entirely, one of aesthetics and “the impossible”. Above even that, or perhaps through that one of many portals – the Holy Grail is not an object, btw, it is a portal – there is an aesthetic of “the impossible”, a finger board of Creation itself, where one can learn where to place one’s thoughts and aspirations.

    • Indeed, this is the message they mean to send, but one must not forget that the public murder of A MEMBER OF THE SECURITY FORCES was ordered and carried out. This is a new facet to the monstrosity that Chavismo is.

      It should not escape anyone that ‘Colectivo Tres Raices’ was involved and suffered two losses. Who caused these losses?

      Shooting students is killing a depersonalized other, an “escualido guarimbero” as the clip of the National Guard chanted in a video some months back. But this time they murdered one of their own, a comrade in arms, fallen from favor due to his insurrection, but comrade just the same, one that wanted to surrender. To this I speculate that they needed the colectivo presence to insure the death of Perez.

      We already know that soldiers and junior officers are going hungry, but they also told them that their life means nothing to them, even if they surrender.

    • In time, they’ll discover how showing mercy might have helped their own future prospects. But they feel invincible, so they have no time for such small concerns. In executing Perez and his people, they sealed their own fate.

    • Because…………Just because it’s you Ira…….God Bless. LOL

      Real answer?

      This website swallows comments whole and places them in sort of Schroedinger’s Box for CC Comments.

      Did the comment really get made? Who knows?

  2. What a sad day. He underestimated the bunch of bandits in power, he was an innocent guy just trying to make a point… I think chavistas killed them because, somehow, they saw themselves in Oscar and his group…. this heinous crime is symbolic in so many levels I wouldn’t know where to start

  3. Sheer nonsense. OP’s memory won’t last more than a juicy Pernil in front of an abastos. Where did Leopoldo Lopez’s memory go, after all his battles, years of publicity and martyrdom from jail? Gone. And he was a thousand times more popular than this ephemeral stranger ever was. How about the dozens of “heroes” killed in the riots last year? Long forgotten. “Y mi pernil” “Y mi clap”?? That’s what matters.

    Get real. OP’s 15 minutes of fame will last, well,,, eso dura menos que peo en chinchorro.

    • I’m with you. This will pass… quickly.

      I don’t see a way out for Venezuela, not in arms, not in votes, not in sanctions… I just hope that the motherfuckers that ruined it are never allowed to leave.

    • That’s what I said in my post that somehow got deleted.

      They’ll maybe name a park after him one day, with the kids asking, “Who’s that?”

      And the parents answering, “Don’t know.”

    • “Where did Leopoldo Lopez’s memory go, after all his battles, years of publicity and martyrdom from jail? Gone.”

      It’s gone because he squandered and burned his political capital, the last nail in the coffin when Lilian Tintori was found with 200 millions in cash.

      The only way to compare it to Op would have been if there had been a video showing him receiving a paycheck and a handshake from diosdado the butcher.

  4. Watching Chavez TV tonight for the first time in many months and it’s wall-to-wall-look-what-we’re-going-to-give-you-free-of-charge. No one else will do this for you. Damn the costs! We’ll just print the money.

    • Yeah, gloves are off:

      “Cabello will ask Maduro for “immediate reciprocity” of sanctions against Spain and the European Union”

      https://www.aporrea.org/economia/n320023.html

      Maybe something is lost in the google-translation, or maybe the original is just lacking any explanation as to exactly how Venezuela can reciprocate with “sanctions” on Spain/EU (or USA for that matter). What exactly would be sanctioned? Travel to or doing business with Venezuela?

      • I’m no expert in international banking laws, etc, but even with all the options around the world to hide money, one has to believe that it’s getting harder and harder for these thieves to hide their stolen loot. Sure, they can put a lot of their wealth in the names of family members, but even that has its risks because family here will often be the first to bend a family member over the table.

      • The damage from the sanctions are self inflicted , they could easily have been avoided if the govt had acted with some semblance of balance and rationality in its repression of dissidence , or in showing some respect to the rule of law in its efforts to contain the legitimate advances of its political opposition or in restraining its big bosses from engaging in gross acts of corruption and organized delinquency …..!!

        If they complain its because they arrogantly think that the world should hold them immune for their excesses and despotic behaviour !!

        Other more severe sanctions will follow , and worse of all will be the penalties which they will incurr as a result of their corrupt and gross mismanagement of the countrys economy but which consequences all Venezuelans (even their own followers ) will have to suffer.

      • he also menaced they could go for the europeans businesses here. Truly, there’s no worse fate for a business to fall in government’s hands.

      • There are a couple of treaties between Spain and Venezuela that give some cover to Spanish entities operating in Venezuela and vice versa.

        As we all know, laws in Venezuela are used just like TP, so that “cover” is at the whim of the powerful.

        He could be referring to voiding the treaties and taking action against Spanish interests locally, but methinks the enchufados have more to lose there

    • Well, lt is great to see godgiven perm/ er hair has finally made the list of “los que no producen pernil.” Any move to tighten the noose is welcomed, even if some posters can not see the cinching of more and more avenues. Wish I could listen to the Quico/IMF podcast tomorrow, hopefully there is a link to listen to it afterwards.

  5. I suspect there’s a limit to how far the rest of the world will let this disaster play out, especially when surrounding nations are left to deal with the refuges of a failed state – and Venezuela is one now. The US is basically floating the country by still buying their oil. I look for that to be challenged soon, in light of the declining conditions.

  6. I think that many commenters are underestimating the importance of what just happened.

    In one sense, the massacre in El Junquito was just another atrocity in a long list of government atrocities. (Various NGOs have estimated upwards of 5000 extrajudicial killings in Venezuela since 2015, as well as numerous well-documented cases of imprisonment without due process and torture.) The key difference really does lie in the very public facts of what happened after the murders in Operation Gideon. In trying to (literally and figuratively) bury the evidence of the atrocity, the regime leadership has left itself no deniability, and this is important.

    There is no statute of limitations on crimes which fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC. The ICC cannot initiate an investigation, but if such an investigation is triggered then the ghost of Oscar Perez will be haunting the regime leadership for a very long time, I hope.

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