CARACAS – The relatives of the seven people labeled “terrorists” by the Venezuelan government who died this week in a military operation against the armed group headed by rebel ex-police officer Oscar Perez demanded on Wednesday to see the bodies of their loved ones.
Two days after the operation – called an “extrajudicial execution” by opposition members and activists – the relatives are still waiting for the Nicolas Maduro government to allow them to identify the bodies, fearing that the remains will be cremated without the results of autopsies being made public.
“I’m only asking them that if they did what they were ordered to do and ... killed my dad that they please give us his body, even if it’s only for us to see him for the last time, not to wait until he decomposes, because if not we’re never going to see him again,” Nicol Diaz, the daughter of one of those killed, told reporters.
Diaz is the daughter of Jose Alejandro Diaz Pimentel, who was a Military Counterintelligence officer and joined Perez’s rebellion against the Maduro dictatorship.
“At the morgue, they say that they’re awaiting an order from (Interior Minister Nestor) Reverol, from the top leadership, so that they can release the body,” the young woman said.
According to what Diaz said in front of the Palace of Justice, where the relatives gathered to ask authorities to turn over the bodies to them, the wife of her father has been “under arrest for five or six months” and was interrogated about the whereabouts of her husband and deprived of family visits and other rights.
“Let them have pity ... We only want to see him and do the same for him as they’re doing for Heiker (Vasquez) with his family, letting them see him, hold a wake for him, burying him as the normal person he was,” said Diaz, referring to Vasquez, a civilian who allegedly had participated in the security operation against Perez’s group.
Vasquez was buried on Wednesday with honors and a rifle salute by the “collective” – a group of armed civilians loyal to Chavismo – to which he belonged, local media reported.
His presence at the operation is one of the irregularities denounced by the opposition and human rights groups, who have reported the use of grenade launchers in the operation against the house where Perez’s group was holed up.
Before dying, Perez posted several videos on the social networks from inside the house asking the security forces who had his group surrounded to let them surrender to avoid the deaths of innocent civilians he said were also in the house.
Perez rebelled against the Maduro government in June, flying over government buildings in a police helicopter and dropping grenades, although that attack did not injure anyone or worse.
Since then, he had publicly posted several videos from hiding in which he called for a popular uprising against the Chavista government, and last month he led his men in assaulting a military base, where they stole weapons after subduing the soldiers there, going on to reproach them for their continued loyalty to the government.