The Venezuelan helicopter pilot who allegedly attacked the country’s Supreme Court building last month resurfaced Wednesday in a video vowing to carry on fighting for the “liberation” of his country from the Maduro dictatorship.
“Once again, we are in Caracas, ready and willing to continue our struggle for the liberation of our country,” Oscar Pérez said in a video uploaded to YouTube, filmed in front of a Venezuelan flag. “We are fully sure of what we are doing and if we must give up our lives, we will hand them over to the people. If this constituent assembly takes place, there will be no Venezuela.”
The video is dated July 4, 2017, though there has been no independent confirmation that the video was filmed on that date. The video also does not provide any clues as to where Pérez is hiding.
Daily protests have taken place in Venezuela since March, triggered by the Venezuelan Supreme Court attempting to annul the National Assembly and decree itself the federal legislature as well as the judiciary.
Following the failure of that plan, Nicolás Maduro announced an initiative to create a “constituent assembly” tasked with writing a new constitution. That assembly would effectively strip lawmakers of their power and hand it over to individuals the government chooses. According to RunRunes, at least 108 people have died as a result of the protests, as police up their brutality with the use of water cannons and rubber bullets.
Pérez’s statement comes ten days after he flew a stolen police helicopter close to the country’s supreme court building, with another passenger firing several times at the building and dropping multiple grenades before flying out of the area. He also attached a flag that read “350 Freedom,” a reference to the Article 350 of the Venezuelan constitution that says Venezuelans reserve the right to “not recognize any regime, legislation, or authority that contradicts their values, principles, and democratic guarantees or disregards human rights.”
Following the incident, Pérez posted a video on Instagram condemning the “corrupt government,” accompanied by three armed militants.
“We have two choices: be judged tomorrow by our conscience and the people or begin today to free ourselves from this corrupt government,” he said.
Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro said that the incident “could’ve caused a tragedy with several dozen dead and injured,” while his vice president Tareck El Aissami “asked for maximum support to find this fanatic, extremist terrorist.”
The sleek production of the video, the failure of the helicopter attack to damage any significant government building, and the fact that Pérez successfully escaped led to rumors that the government staged the incident to divert attention from the country’s worsening economic, social, and political crisis.
This theory gained further traction after images emerged from Pérez’s Instagram account, which has since been deactivated, where he appears to live an adventure-based lifestyle, regularly doing activities such as horse riding and scuba diving.
In addition to his role with the police, Pérez starred in the 2015 Venezuelan film Muerte Suspendida (Suspended Death), which tells the story of a team of highly trained police officers rescuing a hostage.
In a promotional interview for the film, he said: “I am a helicopter pilot, a combat diver, and a free parachutist. I am also a father, a companion and an actor. I am a man who goes out without knowing if he will return home because death is part of evolution.”