By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- The confirmation that an anti-Maduro armed group had been slaughtered Monday by police using military weapons was met with renewed looting on Tuesday in Caracas and other parts of Venezuela.
At about the same time Interior Minister Nestor Reverol (a "Specially Designated National" in the US Treasury's OFAC list) confirmed that Perez, 36, and another six members of his group (including a woman yet to be identified) had been killed, looting started in Montalban, Caracas, an area not far from where police used grenade launchers, machine guns, tanks and helicopters Monday to exterminate a gang that was trying to surrender.
Two policemen also died during the attack, including one of the National Police commanders leading the raid, as well as a man identified as a member of the "Tres Raices" pro-Maduro armed gang Heyker Vasquez. Human rights NGOs and other critics say Maduro is relying more and more on these "colectivos" (collectives, as the gangs are called by the government) to attack the opposition.
In a political aside, Reverol alleged Perez's location had been given to police by "a member of the opposition's negotiation team" -- which the Opposition has rejected and denied.
Maduro and the opposition have been negotiating conditions for free and fair Presidential elections this year in the Dominican Republic, with no progress and are scheduled to meet again this weekend there.
Monday night after the attack, embattled head of state Nicolas Maduro said Perez was building a car bomb, which he was planning to use against an embassy in Caracas.
Maduro also rejected comparisons between the plight of Perez and that of his mentor and predecessor, Hugo Chavez, who surrendered peacefully after leading a failed coup d'etat in which at least 43 died in 1992.
"He can't be compared with Chavez!" Maduro thundered.
But critics had driven the point home: Chavez was allowed to surrender, while Perez was killed on the spot. "Maduro, your hands are full of blood!", opposition lawmaker Franco Casella said Tuesday during a session at the opposition-held legislative National Assembly.
Perez had called for Maduro to resign several times and was protesting against a status-quo that included the National Assembly being unlawfuly gutted of its powers by the Maduro government after the opposition won it in late 2015.
Reverol said his policemen had employed "progressive use of force" in the Perez situation Monday, but all of the available information contradicts that notion: never before had RPGs been used in Venezuelan law enforcement.
Another five members of the Perez gang were captured.
The government posted posters accusing Perez of being a "fascist." However, in six months of actions against Maduro, the gang did not kill or kidnap anyone. They did however steal a helicopter, bomb the Supreme Court with flashbangs and attack a police station, stealing all armaments there.
Perez was particularly media savvy: he starred in a Venezuelan movie and posted all of his recent exploits to Instagram and other social media.