Venezuela: six years have passed since the murder of Óscar Pérez, the officer who rose up against Maduro

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concluded in its report that the Venezuelan State is responsible "for the violation of the rights to life and personal integrity" of the former police officer.

This Monday marks six years since the death of Óscar Pérez, the inspector of the Venezuelan Judicial Police (CICPC) who was murdered after he rebelled against Nicolás Maduro and his regime.

The operation in which Pérez was executed, known as the Junquito Massacre (a reference to the place where it was carried out), had great media coverage because Pérez broadcast the moment on his Instagram account live. Also murdered in the incident were Daniel Soto, Abraham Israel Agostini, José Diaz Pimentel (rebellious official of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence), Jairo Lugo (rebellious official of the National Guard), Abraham Lugo (rebellious official of the National Guard) and Lisbeth Ramirez.

The attack against Pérez occurred after the anti-government protests of 2017, the inspector led a rebellion movement against the socialist regime. On June 27, 2017, he stole a police helicopter and threw grenades - which left no injuries or facilities affected - at two government buildings. In the early morning of January 15, 2018, some five hundred agents from different Government forces carried out a raid on his hideout located in El Junquito, a parish west of Caracas.

The regime's actions occurred despite Pérez and his companions surrendering and asking the police forces to negotiate.

International condemnation of the murder of Óscar Pérez

The incident was condemned by the Venezuelan opposition, which called for an investigation into the case. In addition, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presented case 14,178 regarding Venezuela before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) on October 11, 2023 due to the case and the situation of impunity.

"The events occurred in January 2018, when around 500 security forces attacked the residence in El Junquito where Oscar Pérez and six other victims were located. Despite the fact that, as shown by various videos recorded by Oscar Pérez, the victims surrendered and expressed their willingness to start a negotiation, the state authorities entered the house, using heavy weapons. "All of the victims lost their lives during the operation," highlighted the IACHR on the official website of the Organization of American States (OAS).

"The Venezuelan State is responsible"

"The autopsies and photos published in the media indicated executions with 'grace shots.' Subsequently, relatives faced intimidation and the State did not allow them to hold a proper funeral," the OAS added.

One of the people who published the autopsy images was Luisa Ortega Díaz, who was attorney general of Venezuela until 2017 when she also denounced the murder of student Juan Pablo Pernalete at the hands of officials of the Maduro regime during anti-government protests.

Likewise, the OAS explained that "in the merits report, the Inter-American Commission concluded that the use of lethal force by the State was incompatible with international obligations and considered that the principle of absolute necessity was not complied with nor did they adopt less harmful measures. This resulted in the extrajudicial execution of seven people already neutralized. The Commission noted that the victims were cornered and subsequently executed, which evidenced the violation of the right to life and personal integrity."

Regarding judicial guarantees, the Commission observed, among other elements, the lack of documentation regarding the opening of an investigation, together with the demolition of the scene of the events and the absence of preservation of evidence.

Likewise, the Commission "concluded that the Venezuelan State is responsible for the violation of the rights to life, personal integrity, judicial guarantees, freedom of conscience and religion and judicial protection, to the detriment of the people identified in each of the sections of the report."

But, in addition, the case was also became known in the United States. In 2019, then-President Donald Trump spoke with Óscar Pérez's mother. The Republican invited her to an event in which he highlighted Pérez's leadership and insisted on political change in Venezuela.

"Oscar was an incredible man who did not die in vain," Trump said after the inspector's mother asked him to promote Justice and freedom in Venezuela.