The helicopter used by Oscar Perez and his band of rogue officers to attack the Supreme Court and Interior Ministry buildings in Caracas last night was found late this afternoon in a wooded area in Vargas state. The helicopter, which belongs to the CICPC police agency, was located near a town called Osma, which is located approximately 45 kilometers northeast of Caracas.
Vice president Tareck El Aissami tweeted a picture of the helicopter at around 3:00 PM today:
The helicopter has been found on the northern shore of Vargas state, in the community of Osma. We are still looking for the terrorist.
Another image of the helicopter surfaced on Twitter shortly after, showing National Guard soldiers standing around the vehicle:
Perez, along with an unknown number of companions, used the helicopter to shoot and drop grenades on the offices of the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) and the Ministry of the Interior in Caracas yesterday afternoon. The bizarre incident resulted in minimal damage to the installations of both institutions.
No arrests have been made in relation to the attack.
Details on Perez Emerge as Family Home Raided
Last night, agents from the SEBIN–Venezuela’s political police–raided the home of Oscar Perez in search of clues of his whereabouts. A short clip of the raid on Perez’s home was shown on TeleSur, a state-owned network
While Perez was not home at the time of the raid, a TeleSur journalist reported that military uniforms were found in the home.
As the raid took place, details on Perez’s life before the helicopter attack began to emerge. Perez has an extensive history on Instagram, a network which he used to showcase his amateur acting career as well, his philanthropic work on behalf of sick children, and his love for scuba diving.
Two videos shared on the account in mid-February show Perez testing the controls of a CICPC helicopter and skillfully maneuvering it feet off the ground.
Three Killed During Unrest in Past 24 Hours
Three people have been killed over the past 24 hours during the unrest that continues to shake the country.
The first fatality was an 18-year-old man named Isael Macadan Aguino. Aquino was shot twice–once on the head and one in the arm–during looting in the city of Barcelona, Anzoategui state last night. He died of his injuries early this morning.
According to El Universal, Aquino had been participating in an anti-regime protest in the Tronconal III sector of the city when looting broke out in the area. The newspaper cites residents of the area as saying that they’re not sure if Aquino was shot by police officers who responded to the protest, or by business owners who were protecting their businesses from looters.
The second fatality was a 22-year-old man named Luis Alberto Montiel Herrera. He died during unrest in the city of Maracaibo last night, in the neighbourhood of Las Tuberias. The circumstances surrounding his death are not yet clear, but looting had broken out in the area at the time of this death.
The third fatality was a 25-year-old man named Jhonatan Jose Zavatti Serrano. Zavatti was walking through the 5 de Julio area of the Petare neighbourhood of Caracas on Monday when he was shot in the head when he approached the vicinity of an anti-regime protest. Zavatti died this afternoon from his injuries.
The total number of Venezuelans killed in the unrest that has shaken the country since April 1 is now 79.
Deputy Olivares Wounded in “Trancazo Nacional“
National Assembly opposition deputy Juan Guaido was injured during the course of today’s protest. Guaido was shot in the back at point-blank range with a rubber pellet shotgun by a National Guard soldier while protesting on the Francisco de Miranda avenue in Caracas.
Guaido’s skin was punctured by the rubber bullets in four places: one on the back of his neck and three on his back. Below, an image of a bloodied Guaido showing his injuries:
After receiving the injuries, Guaido said:
Be strong, Venezuela! Let’s keep going! Don’t worry!
Guaido was injured during the Trancazo Nacional [roughly, “National Lockdown”], a protest event that the opposition has organized at two times before. The trancazo involves people “locking down” their cities and towns, either by blocking traffic on major roads or by staying home.
In Caracas, today’s protest took place within the context of the general chaos that has engulfed the city in recent weeks. The video below shows a crowd of people looting a truck on the Frnacisco Fajardo highway in the La Urbina neighbourhood of the city:
In the video below, a pro-regime armed militia known as a colectivo armado [literally “armed group”] pulls on in front of a hospital in the San Bernardino neighbourhood of Caracas. Onlookers begin to shout obscenities at the colectivo, and eventually begin to chant “Hijos de puta!” [“Sons of bitches!”]:
The video below captured the moment that shooting broke out in the Ruiz Pineda residential complex of Caracas. The person recording the video appears to believe that the people doing the shooting were part of a colectivo:
Shooting also broke out in front of the Red Cross building in La Candelaria, Caracas. This shooting was also allegedly the work of a colectivo:
Attorney General Vows to Defend Constitution As TSJ Grants More Power to the People’s Defender
Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz reacted to a decision by the Supreme Court yesterday which essentially grants the People’s Defender office many of the same powers that were previously exclusive to her office, including the ability to receive, process and investigate criminal complaints when it comes to human rights cases.
The ruling has the effect of simultaneously diminishing the power of the Public Ministry as the institution that administers justice in the country, and granting the People’s Defender the ability to do the same.
Yesterday’s ruling is significant given the current break in relations between attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz and the Maduro regime. In recent months, Ortega Diaz has publicly broken away from the Maduro regime, a move that has threatened to loosen Maduro’s grip on the administration of justice in Venezuela.
Tareck El Saab, the head of the Public Ministry, is a loyal member of the PSUV, which means that granting him powers traditionally reserved for the attorney general allows the Maduro regime to still maintain some control over the country’s legal apparatus.
Ortega Diaz held a press conference today in which she stressed that there has been “a break in the constitutional order” of the country. Ortega Diaz also said that the Supreme Court’s decision was “not democratic”, and that they had the effect of “dismantling the state”.
Speaking on the ruling granting the People’s Defender the ability to investigate crimes related to human rights violations, Ortega Diaz said:
If we analyze the context in which the country is living, this ruling is a sign that the human rights of all Venezuelans are in danger. What the Supreme Court did with the National Assembly it now wants to do with the Public Ministry.
Ortega Diaz also criticized the Maduro regime for exercising what she considers to be “state terrorism”:
… I think that there is state terrorism here. There’s state terrorism [because] we’ve lost the right to protest, there is brutal repression, and civilians are tried before military tribunals.
The attorney general ended her press conference today by promising to defend the Constitution and democracy to the bitter end:
I swear it. I will defend the Constitution and democracy even with my life.
Supreme Court Freezes AG Ortega Diaz’s Assets, Bans Her From Leaving Venezuela
Shortly after attorney general Ortega Diaz finished her press conference today, the TSJ–Venezuela’s Supreme Court–ordered all of her assets in the country frozen and barred her from leaving the country.
The TSJ also announced that the impeachment procedure against the attorney general would begin next Tuesday at 10:00 AM.
The top court cited “serious flaws in the conduct of her duties” as the reason for its decision.
Authorities Caught Brutalizing Citizens on Two Clips
Two videos surfaced today on social media showing a pair of unrelated instances of the brutality that Venezuelans have come to except from their security forces.
The first video shows a group of Aragua state police officers beating a man–presumably a protester–in the city of Maracay:
The second video shows National Guard soldiers beating and dragging and unconscious individual this afternoon in Caracas. As the soldiers drive away on their motorcycles, the individual continues to lay motionless under the afternoon rain. The video was likely recorded in the Altamira neighbourhood of Caracas:
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