30 Junio 2017 09:21
A helicopter opened fire on Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Tuesday. This is the story of the man who was flying it.
He’s a high-ranking police agent, member of the Special Action Brigade and forensic police force and also former chief of operations for the Air Force Division. His rise to fame began in 2015 when he played a police officer involved in rescuing a kidnapping victim in the film ‘Suspended Death’.
However, the images of his latest action scenes at the control of a helicopter have reached an international audience, something he would have struggled to achieve as an actor. The assault has put the Venezuelan government on high alert and the country’s president, Nicolás Maduro, has described it as an attempt to ‘mount a coup’.
Óscar Pérez, as well as a combat diver and freefall parachutist, is ‘a man who goes out without knowing if he will return home because death is part of evolution,’ according to what he told the newspaper Diario Panorama in 2015. Pérez allegedly piloted the police helicopter which, on Tuesday afternoon, fired and launched grenades at Venezuelan government buildings, spreading panic among local residents in the centre of Caracas.
The videos of the helicopter have taken the social networks by storm. Sounds of gunfire and exploding grenades as it flies over the Venezuelan Supreme Court can be heard over the startled and frightened voices of local residents as they film from a nearby window. ‘They’ve fired a bomb, look! I’m shaking, that’s gunfire, gunfire! Oh my God!,’ a woman exclaims in one of the recordings.
The Bolivarian National Guard defended against the attack, but the helicopter fled the scene.
President Maduro condemned the incident: ‘This is the kind of armed escalation that I’ve been denouncing.’ And he called upon the opposition to condemn the action, in which, according to the regime’s version, 15 shots were fired at the Interior and Justice Ministries and four grenades launched at the Supreme Court building. No one was injured.
The helicopter was carrying a sign that read ‘350 Libertad’ (Freedom 350), alluding to article 350 of the Constitution, which urges Venezuelans not to recognise a regime that opposes democratic freedoms.
The 36-year-old instructor posted a video on Instagram in which he addresses the camera directly, flanked by four masked militants armed with assault rifles, he says: ‘We have two choices: be judged tomorrow by our conscience and the people or begin today to free ourselves from this corrupt government. We are Warriors of God and our mission is to serve the people. Long live Venezuela!’.
In another of the 5 posted videos, he calls for support from Venezuelans, denies any party association and says he is on the side of Jesus Christ, claiming to be part of ‘a coalition of military, police and civilians in search of an equilibrium and against this transitory, criminal government.’
The attack took place amid an escalation of violence in the anti-government street protests, which have left 80 people dead. The marches, which had been steadily gathering strength, reached a head when the Venezuelan Supreme Court decided to take control of the National Assembly.
Lawmakers, mostly opposed to Maduro, have thereby been stripped of their powers, while the Venezuelan people are left to deal with an economic crisis, shortages in medicines and basic commodities, soaring inflation and daily scenes of violence and murder.