Venezuelan leader’s body gets longer limbo in US

A US judge ruled on Tuesday that the body of late ex-Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Perez would remain in a Miami funeral parlor until a March trial over a legal standoff between relatives.

Lawyers representing Perez’s first wife and children in Venezuela, and second companion and children in Miami, reached an agreement accepted by the judge that the remains would not be moved from a refrigerated unit at the funeral home in the meantime.

The upcoming trial will determine the former president’s final resting place.

Perez died of an apparent heart attack on Christmas day in Miami. He was 88.

The family of Perez’s first wife Blanca Rodriguez whom he never divorced - and their six children want the body repatriated to Venezuela.

But Perez’s longtime companion Cecilia Matos and their two daughters vowed to respect what they maintain was the former leader’s wish to return to Venezuela only when “full democracy” was restored.

Perez, Venezuela’s president in 1974-1979 and again from 1989-1993, was forced out of office by the Venezuelan Supreme Court on corruption charges.

He was a fierce critic of socialist-populist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

During his first term, Perez presided over the nationalisation of the oil industry and the creation of state-run Petroleos de Venezuela, which reaped huge returns from soaring oil prices of the 1970s.

But his second term was buffeted by political upheaval, including a failed coup by Chavez, then an unknown army lieutenant colonel who served two years in prison before his release.

 

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