Venezuela: Why did the Government Kill Óscar Pérez?

The second week of January, just when people are trying to set new routines, go back to school, and work to somehow continue with life, the Venezuelan government surprised us again with one of the most terrible and violent assassinations ever. We, those who fight and resist, have decided to name things as they are, this was murder. Óscar Pérez, his team, and others were killed after being sieged in a house in the Mountains of Caracas.

Who was Óscar Pérez?

Óscar Pérez rose in rebellion on June 24th, 2017 when he took a helicopter and flew over the Supreme Court with a flag that had the number 350 written on, throwing a grenade over the building. Article 350 says that the Venezuelan people have to defend justice and democracy and that it should not recognize any government that goes against democratic values. After that first appearance, he assaulted several military institutions collecting guns and ammunition.

He used to work as a police officer for the CICPC (The Venezuelan CSI) and one of the things that caused people to mistrust him and his intentions, was the fact he had participated in a movie (so people thought he was just an actor) and the unusual way he communicated with the Venezuelan people. Óscar Pérez relied on Instagram and other social media to communicate. He posted videos regularly and used these tools to let people know his thoughts and plans. Some people never overcame their mistrust of him because of this. We thought everything was part of the same government show and plan. I thought it was a smokescreen as well, another distraction to keep us from paying attention to the real problems. We just don’t know what to believe anymore.

The Assassination of Óscar Pérez

In the early morning of Monday 15th, he was found in El Junkito, a mountain area in Caracas. An armed group of 500 men was sent to kill Óscar Pérez. These men belonged to the National Bolivarian Guard, Military Counter-Intelligence, Police Intelligence, National Police, and the paramilitary groups called Colectivos.

His Instagram account (equilibriogv) was deactivated a few days ago, but other members of the resistance have created a new one (equilibriogv_) to repost some of the final videos. Those who were recorded while they were being sieged, attacked, and killed in Caracas. They manifested their intention to surrender, but the 500 armed men outside did not pay attention to this and continued the attack. Grenades and RPG cannons were used against the resistance group, who were considered terrorists by the Venezuelan government. Little did they know video streams were being sent and the citizens were witnesses of this disproportionate attack.

Óscar Pérez declared in an Instagram video: “We want to negotiate our surrender and they just continue shooting, they want to kill us.”

Venezuelan Government Reactions

The government claims the so-called terrorists shot first and their human rights were respected. Even though the videos and the statements of neighbors indicate the complete opposite. After the operation was over, government officials had this to say:

  • Diosdado Cabello (now representative, president of the PSUV)* accused national independent media to defend Óscar Pérez, and said what the videos show is one thing, but what actually happened is another.
  • Iris Varela (now Ministry of Penal affairs)* described the events as a “crying show” and said Pérez was a murderer, a coward, and a rat.
  • There is also an unofficial audio recording of Freddy Bernal (now Police General Commissioner)* deeply regretting there was an armed civilian who died in the attack, Heiker Vásquez, leader of a Colectivo, “because war is like this”, he said.
  • Finally, Nicolas Maduro (now President)*, briefly talked about the operation, didn’t mention Pérez was already dead and said that terrorism doesn’t match with human rights.

*The asterisk following these names indicate that is the position they occupy right now since the government specializes in moving their people from one Ministry to another just to avoid letting go of power.

Venezuela, Terrorists, and a Rebellion

If the government said the terrorists shot first, how come they don’t have their own videos to prove it? They also didn’t allow any independent analyst to process the crime scene, they didn’t give the bodies to the families to have proper funerals and they buried them without their permission at night without any kind of official statement. They wanted to get rid of them as soon as possible and we were all witnesses of that, we let that happen because there are almost no ways of stopping them.

There are many military men and women who have voiced their disagreement and uploaded their own videos calling the people to form a rebellion. What is next for them can be very similar to what happened to Óscar Pérez. to disappear from the face of the earth and their names degraded with terrorists’ labels. Anyone who opposes this government is immediately banned and marked as a traitor. That is what murderers do, that is how a criminal government behaves.

About Isabel Matos

Isabel is a Venezuelan translator that struggles to find a voice and to prosper in today’s political turmoil and tension. She is also an undergraduate English teacher and is currently pursuing a Master’s in English as a Foreign Language. Translator, teacher and always student, she is interested in how language shapes reality and how women and men negotiate power through discourse.

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