Lethal Siege of Venezuela Rebels Led by Former Motion Hero Transfixes Nation

Lethal Siege of Venezuela Rebels Led by Former Motion Hero Transfixes Nation

In June, he and a small group commandeered a helicopter within the capital, Caracas. They used it to drop grenades onto the Supreme Courtroom constructing and open fireplace on the Inside Ministry in a brazen noon assault.

Mr. Pérez then unfurled a banner calling on Venezuelans to insurgent towards Mr. Maduro, to the cheers of protesters under. He later launched a video during which he and a masked band repeated their calls of insurrection.

Whereas nobody was injured in that assault, it was a humiliation for the federal government, and it vowed to seize him.

It additionally signaled the rise of probably the most inconceivable figures in Venezuela’s political turmoil final 12 months: a police officer who had as soon as starred in a low-budget motion film a couple of crime squad. Now, it appeared, he was taking part in a real-life model of the character he had portrayed.

On Monday, Venezuelans had been glued to the unfolding occasions on social media. Early within the morning, Mr. Perez introduced that his location had been found. Then he started releasing a sequence of movies.


Óscar Pérez talking at a vigil in Caracas final 12 months to honor individuals killed throughout months of antigovernment protests in Venezuela.

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Miguel Rodriguez/Related Press

“We’re negotiating with the officers and the prosecutors,” he says calmly into the digicam in one of many first messages, showing in a darkish room. Different rebels might be heard within the background shouting into telephones.

In a later video, posted after dawn, Mr. Pérez turns the digicam outdoors, the place authorities officers might be seen calling as much as him.

“We’re not criminals,” he tells them. “We’re patriots who’re combating for our convictions.”

Within the movies, Mr. Pérez is heard saying repeatedly that his group will give up as a result of it’s accompanied by civilians. He says they don’t want a combat.

However in a later video, the 2 sides seem to have stopped speaking and begun battle. A insurgent in a helmet and flak jacket might be seen taking cowl beside a wall whereas one other holds a rifle behind a submitting cupboard.

“Maintain your fireplace!” somebody shouts.

Whereas Mr. Pérez mentioned final 12 months that he had hoped others would take up his name, he has seemed more and more alone in current months.

After showing in public during an anti-government rally in July, Mr. Pérez largely disappeared from public view. Whereas some members of the safety forces staged rebellions of their own within the time afterward, prime navy officers stayed loyal to Mr. Maduro’s authorities. Mr. Pérez’s deserted helicopter was discovered by the federal government shortly after the June assault.

Maybe most demoralizing to Mr. Pérez and his followers was the disbanding of road protests towards Mr. Maduro that happened after the president consolidated energy by dissolving the opposition-controlled Congress and establishing a brand new one filled with loyalists.

On Monday, a video attributed to Mr. Pérez’s mom was posted on Twitter during which she pleaded with the federal government to permit him to give up.

However the firefight continued.

“They’re throwing grenade after grenade,” he mentioned, his face bloodied as he crouched behind an oven along with his rifle. “They’re capturing at us. Venezuelans: Freedom eternally!”

In one of many final messages, Mr. Pérez seems exhausted. His face is roofed with blood and he’s panting. The sounds of gunshots ring within the background.

“They don’t need us to give up,” he says.

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