Venezuela’s chaos turned bizarre Tuesday evening when a rogue police officer flew a helicopter over the Caracas presidential palace and later urged Venezuelans to rise up against their government. The cop has done this sort of thing before – on the big screen.
Oscar Pérez is an officer in Venezuela’s investigative police force. But now it seems he’s an insurrectionist.
In a video he issued on social media Tuesday night, he calls on Venezuelans to join his rebellion against the authoritarian socialist regime of President Nicolás Maduro. Maduro has been the target of anti-government protests this year as Venezuela’s economy collapses.
“We are a coalition of patriotic security forces personnel against this criminal government and its impunity and tyranny,” Pérez says on the video, flanked by armed men in ski masks.
Just hours before, Pérez had commandeered a police helicopter and buzzed the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas. The copter displayed a banner reading “Freedom 350” – a reference to an article in Venezuela’s Constitution that allows for revolt against dictatorial rulers. Pérez then flew over the Supreme Court building and dropped exploding grenades. (No one was hurt.)
But you could say Pérez rehearsed this sort of daring action two years ago when he had a role in a Venezuelan movie titled “Muerte Suspendida,” or, “Suspended Death.”
In the film, the handsome Pérez plays…himself, really, a Venezuelan special forces cop who pilots a helicopter to foil a ransom kidnapping.
Pérez is reportedly in hiding now. It’s unclear if he’s become a hero to Venezuelans – most of whom do want to see President Maduro out.
But on social media, many are also asking if Maduro didn’t hire the cop-slash-actor to stage the copter drama as a distraction from Venezuela’s crisis and his increasingly anti-democratic rule. (At the same time Pérez was flying over Miraflores, National Guard troops were caught on video assaulting opposition legislators at the National Assembly. Maduro's opponents fear he'll use Pérez's escapade as a pretext for cracking down more violently on the demonstrations.)
Either way, this movie may not end well for Officer Pérez. Or Venezuela.