Oscar Perez, the rebel leader killed by regime forces last Monday in El Junquito, was buried this morning at approximately 7:00 AM in Caracas’ Cementerio del Este.
The burial took place under strict security. Regime forces allowed only two of Perez’s relatives to witness the lowering of the casket, and forced cemetery staff to hand over their cellphones prior to the burial. The regime chose one of the cemetery’s most inaccessible parcels as the grave site, located on a hill near telecommunication towers at the end of a winding path.
Perez’s aunt, Aura Perez, and his cousin, Francisca Perez, were the only two relatives allowed to witness the burial. While Aura says that she was allowed to see Perez’s body in the coffin, Francisa says that she did not see it.
Below, an image of Perez’s grave, which is located in the cemetery’s 42A parcel:
After the burial, regime forces allowed the rest of Perez’s relatives and other mourners to make the long and winding trek up to his grave.
The video below shows a group of mourners arranging flowers and placing a Venezuelan flag on Perez’s grave:
As the morning progressed, more and more mourners made it to the grave site. The video below shows more flowers and notes on Perez’s grave:
Below, images of a crowd waving Venezuelan flags and signs at the grave site:
By the mid-morning, a priest had arrived at Perez’s grave and delivered a sermon:
Below, a video of the priest leading the crowd of mourners in a Hail Mary:
Maryori Perdomo Perez, Oscar’s cousin, spoke to reporters from the cemetery after the burial and provided an overview of how the day had developed:
Maryori Perdomo Perez: We got here at 6:30 in the morning. They [the authorities] didn’t want a wake. That’s a right that we had, but they said “no”, that it wasn’t possible. They didn’t let me take out my phone and record anything, but they were able to record [and] take pictures.
Reporter: Were you able to see Oscar?
Maryori Perdomo Perez: Yes, of course. When we got here, they opened up the casket and, well, that was Oscar. Also, before we left [the morgue] they also showed us a picture of Oscar to show us how he was so we could rectify [Note: I think she means “confirm”], and then we came here to rectify. It’s Oscar. It’s my cousin.
Reporter: What can you say about this operation, about how they [the authorities] restricted access to everyone here?
Maryori Perdomo Perez: Well, how can I explain it? They kept us there [outside the Bello Monte morgue] for so long, waiting, waiting for the order from the army prosecutor, and [they said that] your mother can’t….
Fighting back tears, Maryori spoke about he opinion of her cousin:
Maryori Perdomo Perez: … and since they outrank you, they’re the ones in charge. That’s what they decided. Our word meant nothing to them.
Reporter: They [the authorities] wanted to stop people coming here in support?
Maryori Perdomo Perez: Of course. They wanted to stop people coming here in support.
Reporter: What does “Oscar Perez” mean to people today?
Maryori Perdomo Perez: Wow. Well, everything. Oscar Perez is a hero. He gave up everything for us, fighting for justice here in the country, for children. He was a very helpful and humble being. All of Venezuela knows who Oscar Perez is. It’s very clear who Oscar Perez is and what he wanted for this society.
At one point in the day, a young man dressed in his protest gear visited Perez’s tomb. The man–dubbed by the media as “the young man from the resistance”–gave an impassioned speech before onlookers after paying his respects.
Below, an image of the man. He is wearing a helmet, a gas mask and goggles, items that formed part of the uniform for anti-government protesters last year:
Below, a section of the man’s speech:
Young Resistance Fighter: … and we do nothing! We can’t just remember him as a hero, as—we can’t! We have to commemorate his memory [by] taking to the streets! What are we waiting for? What more do we need? I’m 23 years old. I have a career, and it pains me to say that even having that, I have nothing. I will speak from my heart…
At the end of the video, many people in the crowd began to yell, “Stop filming!” possibly out of concern for the man’s safety.
Pimentel’s Sister Says Brother’s Body Showed Signs of Torture
Jose Alejandro Pimentel’s sister told reporters today that she saw signs of torture on her brother’s body, and that he had been shot through the temples. Her testimony provides important clues to how Perez and his companions died, given how tight-lipped the regime has been about the case.
Below, her comments along with my translation:
Pimentel’s Sister: … I want them to pay. I want them to pay for this.
Repoter: What happened, exactly?
Pimentel’s Sister: Look, my brother was massacred. His head was all smashed. There was a hole in his temple, and an exit wound on the other. They were tortured. And because they weren’t able to get anything out of them, they decided to massacre them, to murder them. That’s what they did.
They were honorable men, and they knew that they couldn’t say anything, and that’s why they were massacred. Because of their honor.
Pimentel was killed alongside Perez and five other companions in a house in El Junquito, Caracas on Monday. The circumstances of their killings are unclear, specially because Perez reiterated throughout the ordeal that he wanted to surrender but that the authorities would not allow them to.
Perez Safe House Demolished
A video published on Venepress taken by a journalist likely this past Friday January 19 shows that Perez’s safe house in El Junquito has been demolished.
The video can be seen here. The demolished house can be seen around the 0:10-0:15, and 0:55 marks.
At 1:43, the reporter asks a young man who lives in the area what happened to the home. Below, my translation of the young man’s response:
Joseph Alamo: It magically disappeared two nights ago. It disappeared overnight (…) that was sad. And it’s still sad.
Lila Acevedo: It’s crazy what they did afterwards. The clean up. That’s what it was, a clean up after a massacre, because they massacred [Perez and his companions]. After they did that, they cleaned up the site. They brought machines to clean up. They demolished the house.
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