|Chavez wins again.|
Even in death, Carlos Andres Perez managed to ruffle his nemesis Hugo Chavez's feathers. After the ex-president passed away in Miami last Christmas, his body was caught in a tug-of-war between Chavez loyalists and the Magic City's anti-regime exiles as two sides of his family battled over whether to bury him here or back in Caracas.
Perez served as Venezuela's president twice, first during the oil boom years from 1973 - 78 and then again in 1988.
In '92, he crushed Chavez's first attempted coup, sending the young lieutenant colonel to prison and winning his reputation among other Chavez foes as a symbol of resistance to the Bolivarian strongman. (Of course, CAP was also arrested the next year and charged with massive corruption, but that's another tale).
In 2003, Perez moved full-time to Miami after suffering a stroke, living mostly in Brickell Key with his longtime companion, Cecilia Matos.
When he died last December, Matos and CAP's two daughters with her planned to bury him in Miami. But as they prepared a memorial service two days later, a lawyer arrived with a court order not to bury the ex-prez.
His wife in Venezuela, long estranged but never actually divorced, was asserting her right to bury the ex-leader in his homeland. Miami's exiles were sure Chavez's hand was involved.
"Carlos Andrés Pérez, for us, is a symbol of democracy," Vicente Pugliese, the leader of a Miami-based exile group, told us in March
. "For Hugo Chávez, he's a trophy that he wants to bring back to Venezuela against his will."
Family fight or political proxy, CAP's Venezuelan clan has won out. A Miami judge ruled against the Matos family in August.
Today, the ex-president's body will be loaded onto a Caracas-bound plane. RIP CAP.
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