Confusion and despair gripped the relatives of Oscar Perez and his six companions, all slain on Monday’s raid on their safe house in El Junquito, as uncertainty over the location of their bodies remains.
After a chaotic day that saw relatives traveling from the cemetery to the morgue in desperate search of their loved ones’ remains, only two bodies were buried: those belonging to Abraham Agostini Agostini and Jose Alejandro Diaz Pimentel. The relatives of the men told reporters that the authorities did not allow them to hold a wake for their loved ones, and that they restricted access to the burial grounds.
While Perez’s body remains in the Bello Monte morgue, those of Jairo Lugo, Abraham Lugo and Lisbeth Ramirez have been transported to their homes of Maracaibo and Tachira, respectively, aboard military aircraft.
Ramirez’s funeral was marked by a high degree of confusion given the fact that the regime is fully controlling the burial and does not appear to be communicating properly with the family. While relatives awaited for the arrival of Ramirez’s body at the San Cristobal Metropolitan Cemetery, they received word that the authorities were in fact taking her to another cemetery. The relatives were forced to split up in order to attempt to find out where their daughter will be laid to rest.
Ever since the bodies of Perez and his six counterparts arrived in the Bello Monte morgue on Monday, the authorities have handled them with unprecedented secrecy. Crowds of mourning relatives and their supporters have gathered outside of the morgue each day this week. Just last night, the relatives of the victims were granted access to the facility to properly identify the bodies.
The secrecy with which the bodies are being handled has given rise to speculation that the regime is attempting to cover up or destroy evidence of extrajudicial killings. Yesterday, an image of Perez’s death certificate surfaced online demonstrating that he had been killed by being shot in the head, stoking fears that he was summarily executed by a regime death squad.
Activity at the Bello Monte morgue early this morning suggested that the authorities were preparing to move the bodies, presumably to the Cementerio del Este in Caracas, for burial. That theory was confirmed when relatives of some of the victims arrived at the cemetery only to find a strong National Guard presence there:
The soldiers had been sent to the cemetery to stop the relatives of the victims from accessing the grounds to witness the burials of their loved ones. In the video below, Oscar Perez’s aunt is accompanied by the relatives of Perez’s slain counterparts as they beg the stone-faced National Guard soldiers to let them through:
Woman Recording: [To the soldiers] How can you take this away from that? Those are their relatives. That’s his aunt.
Relative of Victim: Please! You have a family as well. You can make history today.
Woman: You have families too! They [the regime] could do this to you as well, just like they did it to them!
Relative of Victim: Please, you are good men! You can do the right thing. Please! Please, we are begging you! This is not just! The war isn’t against you, it’s against everyone! Please! React!
The anguished relatives did not receive any response from the authorities, and were later met by a crowd of supporters and well-wishers who arrived at the cemetery after news of the unfolding drama broke on social media. The crowd included National Assembly deputies Wilson Flores and Delsa Solorzano.
At one point, a small scuffle broke out between the crowd and the National Guard soldiers:
Below, an image of Jose Alejandro Pimentel’s children at their father’s grave:
After finally being granted access to the grounds, a crowd of supporters sang the national anthem at Pimentel’s grave:
Protesters Gather Outside Bello Monte Morgue for Perez
Once it became clear that Perez’s body had not been taken to the Cementerio del Este for burial today, demonstrators began to gather outside the Bello Monte morgue again on the presumption that his body was still there.
At least some of the crowd arrived at the morgue in a frenzy, with some demonstrators running up the hill on which the morgue is located carrying banners and shouting slogans:
Another shot of the demonstrators running up the hill to the morgue:
Below, an image of the crowd outside the morgue in the mid-afternoon:
Once the crowd began to grow in size, National Guard reinforcements arrived on the scene:
The video shows what appears to be a scuffle between protesters and National Guard soldiers outside of the morgue:
The video below appears to show the same scene as the one above, but from the ground:
The scuffles do not appear to have dissuaded the crowd. The video below was recorded at 4:52 PM local time. The video shows a large crowd outside of the morgue chanting, “The people united will never be defeated!”:
Protesters Gather in Parque Cristal Support of Perez
Protesters gatheredCaracas starting this morning to show their support for Oscar Perez and his fallen companions.
The demonstration in Parque Cristal was spearheaded by the Voluntad Popular (VP) party, which began to organize the event two days ago.
National Assembly deputy Ramon Flores tweeted the following images from the event:
More shots of the crowd:
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