The families of Oscar Perez and his slain companions spent the day outside of the Bello Monte morgue in Caracas today hoping in vain to be given access to the bodies of their loved ones.
Aura Perez, Oscar’s aunt, expressed exhaustion upon leaving the morgue after spending most of the day inside. When asked by reporters if she had been granted access to her nephew’s bodies, a clearly distraught Perez said simply, “I’ll see him tomorrow”.
The distraught relatives of Abraham Agostini refused to answer reporters’ questions after they exited the morgue in the early evening.
Below, a clip of Jose Alejandro Pimentel’s daughter speaking through tears to reporters outside of the morgue earlier today:
Pimentel’s Daughter: Nothing. He always treated me with love. [He said that] he loved me and that he was doing this for our own good and for a better future for Venezuela.
Reporter: Are you willing to take up your father’s struggle?
Pimentel’s Daughter: Yes! And I hope that every Venezuelan takes notice, that this thing that they are doing [the government] is a dictatorship, and that no one deserves to live the way that they [the government] want us to live. We have to think like they do, because otherwise they kill us, beat us, and throw us in jail. These are injustices.
Reporter: How old are you?
Pimentel’s Daughter: I’m 17.
Reporter: And your brother?
Pimentel’s Daughter: He’s 13, and my other brother is 6 years old.
Reporters: [Speaking over each other; sounds like someone asks, “are you alone now?”]
Pimentel’s Daughter: We are alone. The mother of my 6 year old brother is in prison, and my father was murdered. My 13 year old brother and I–our mother died three years ago, and now they killed our dad and they left us without a dad.
Reporter: Where are you going to stay now?
Pimentel’s Daughter: Every since my mom died, we’ve lived with my grandmother, Rosa Pimentel, who is my father’s mother, Jose Alejandro Diaz. He worked here in Caracas, and he worked a lot so that he could afford to pay for all of our things, because he was the one who took care of our family.
Reporter: What was the last message that you got from your father? A video?
Pimentel’s Daughter: Yes, in the last message he asked the people of Venezuela to reflect, that he was giving up lives for a better country, and that [he hoped that they would] change and think differently, and that this president really is not working because he’s making us suffer. We can’t even eat properly.
By nightfall, a small group of demonstrators had gathered outside of the morgue to demand that the authorities release the bodies:
Heiker Vasquez Buried in Caracas
Heiker Vasquez, one of the people killed in Monday’s raid on the Oscar Perez safe house in El Junquito, was buried in Caracas today. Heiker was the head of a colectivo armado [a pro-regime milita] called Tres Raises [Three Roots] that operated out of the 23 de Enero neighbourhood in Caracas.
Gunfire rang out in the neighbourhood throughout the morning, presumably in mourning for the loss of Vasquez.
Below, images taken in the 23 de Enero this morning featuring the sound of gunfire:
Woman: This is how they commemorate that thug, that colectivo [member].
Below, an image of the National Bolivarian Police motorcade that escorted Vasquez’s hearse on the Francisco Fajardo highway this morning on its way to the cemetery:
As the funeral took place, various news outlets and journalists began to report that Heyker Vasquez was the alias of Andriun Domingo Ugarte Ferrera, one of the two National Bolivarian Police officers who died during Monday’s raid. The theory would explain why unformed members of the National Bolivarian police escorted Vasquez’s hearse this afternoon through Caracas.
Diosdado Cabello Offers Adds Details to Regime Version of Events
Speaking in his weekly television show earlier this evening, PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello provided new details on the regime’s version of Monday’s events in El Junquito.
Cabello said that the first officers arrived at the Perez safe house at approximately 4:00 AM Monday morning, and that Perez and his band “received them with pure lead” as soon as they arrived. Cabello said that while the officers attempted to negotiate with Perez’s group, “they never stopped shooting” at the police. This, Cabello said, despite the fact that Maduro “had given orders to keep him alive”.
Perez recorded at least 15 videos during the course of his interaction with the authorities on Monday morning. The first six videos–recorded between 6:46 AM and 8:27 AM–show a calm, resigned Perez explaining his willingness to surrender to the authorities. It is only in the seventh video–recorded at approximately 9:04 AM–that a bloodied Perez announces that a firefight has broken out.
Based on Cabello’s timeline of events and the video evidence from Perez, the two sides did not engage one another in fighting for at least five hours.
Cabello also provided an explanation for why Heyker Vasquez, the head of a pro-regime militia, was present at the scene of what was supposed to be a police operation. According to Cabello, Vasquez was a friend of Perez’s right-hand man, Jose Alejandro Pimentel, and that Pimentel requested that Vasquez act as a negotiator. “As soon as [Heiker] exited his vehicle”, Cabello said, Pimentel shot him dead.
Cabello did not explain why Pimentel might have wanted to murder his friend.
Journalist Fired for Speaking on Oscar Perez Case on TV
Alba Cecilia Mujica, a journalist with the Globovision network, was fired today after 16 years with the network for speaking on the Oscar Perez case during a television segment on Tuesday morning.
During the segment, Mujica alluded to the case and suggested that Perez and his companions had been the victims of extrajudicial killings because they had not been allowed to surrender. She also question why members of a colectivo armado were present at the scene.
Below, the comments that resulted in Mujica’s firing:
Alba Mujica: … our country even more. What happened yesterday is that the opportunity to say “I surrender!” was not even an option. “I am here. Allow me to be processed [by the courts]”. This is what used to happen in the past with this government. What happened yesterday ended the lives of many innocent people who were in that house in El Junquito. It ended the lives of police officers who took part in the operation, and it ended the lives of people from the colectivos [pro-regime militias], and we don’t know why they were there.
What happened yesterday cannot happen again. We have to think about peace in this country. We have to think about moving forward, not moving backwards. These are my words today, so that we can all think about them and reflect. Thank you. Have a great day.
Mujica confirmed the news of her firing today with the following tweet:
I am very sad. After 16 years of [telling] the truth I have no words to express my indignation. [I was fired] only for doing my job and telling the truth.
Globovision is a privately-owned network. While the Maduro regime often touts the fact that private media exists in the country as evidence of a free press, private media outlets are subject to immense pressure from regime regulators to adhere to strict censorship guidelines or face strict fines and even broadcast license revocations.
At least 49 private media outlets were closed by the Maduro regime last year.
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