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Fugitive Venezuelan Pilot Makes Brazen Public Appearance

July 14, 2017 8:53 PM
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Fugitive Venezuelan Pilot Makes Brazen Public Appearance

On June 27, a police helicopter swooped down on Caracas and dropped at least one grenade on the Supreme Court building before someone opened fire on the Interior Ministry building.

A banner was unfurled from the helicopter that read “350 Freedom,” a reference to Article 350 of Venezuela’s Constitution, which gives citizens the right to “disown any regime legislation or authority that violates democratic values of the country.”

Some experts speculated that the attack might have been a stunt organized by the government to discredit the opposition, but no evidence has been uncovered to support this theory.

Mr. Pérez posted a five-part video manifesto to his Instagram account on the day of the attack, denouncing the government and calling for an uprising. The clips have since been deleted, but a copy can be seen below.

“We have two options: to be judged tomorrow by our conscience and the people, or from today to rid ourselves of this corrupt government,” Mr. Pérez said in the video, and he demanded the immediate resignation of Mr. Maduro. “We are warriors of God, and our mission is to live at the service of the people. Viva Venezuela.”

Mr. Pérez, a trained pilot, was reportedly a member of Venezuela’s intelligence and investigative organization. Posts on his Instagram account, now deleted, showed him sky diving with a German Shepherd strapped to his chest and posing with a rifle. He also starred in a low-budget 2015 movie, “Suspended Death.”

Some Venezuelans assumed that Mr. Pérez had fled the country, after the helicopter used in the attack was found near the Caribbean coast, according to the police.

But last week, he reappeared in a video, detailing how he had made an emergency landing in the remote area before returning to Caracas.

In the clip, Mr. Pérez, looking gaunt as he sat in front of a Venezuelan flag with a rifle by his side, warned of a “new phase” of the opposition movement.

Source: nytimes.com

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