CARACAS – Security forces used tear gas and buckshot to disperse a demonstration Monday in Caracas honoring Oscar Perez, the police officer who rebelled against the Venezuelan government and who died last week in a police operation to catch him, an act widely condemned by the opposition.
Citizens and some opposition leaders met Monday afternoon in Tres Gracias Plaza near the Central University of Venezuela (UCV), the largest public institute of higher education in the country, and swore that “the sacrifice” of Perez and six other members of his group, all gunned down, “will not have been in vain.”
“The best tribute is to fight tirelessly and bring down this tyranny... Today we Venezuelans say that his sacrifice will not have been in vain,” opposition leader Maria Corina Machado said during her speech to a crowd of supporters.
“The only choice is to fight, the fight continues, the fight is growing,” Machado said, without referring specifically to the street protests.
Meanwhile a group of young protesters blocked streets near the UCV and threw rocks at a Bolivarian National Police (PNB) unit, which responded with tear gas and buckshot.
Not yet known is whether anyone was injured in the clash.
Last Monday, Perez and his group, which included a woman, were surrounded in a house in the Caracas district of El Junquito, near the northern states of Vargas and Aragua.
Perez used social networks to announce that he wanted to negotiate his surrender to the authorities, while urging his fellow citizens to stage an uprising in the streets.
The operation ended with the death of all who were in the house, called “terrorists” by the government.
On Monday the opposition-controlled Venezuelan National Assembly legislature denounced the arrest of at least 31 people over the past few days in connection with this case.
Perez rebelled against President Nicolas Maduro last June when he flew over Caracas in a police helicopter, shooting and throwing hand grenades at government buildings, without causing either deaths or injuries.
Since then, he has made several videos while in hiding, in which he asked for a popular uprising against the Chavista government.