Carlos Andres Perez, Ex-Venezuelan Prez, Has Burial Delayed While Wife and Mistress Argue Over the Gravesite (Update)

After a week of kind eulogies for Carlos Andres Perez -- including our own arguing the world would be a better place if he could have just held off the coup-crazy Hugo Chavez -- the post-death story of the ex-Venezuelan president is suddenly getting very messy.

A Miami judge has ordered the leader's burial delayed while his wife and his "longtime secretary and mistress" squabble over whether to bury him in the Magic City or the land of Chavismo.

Update: CAP's body is headed back to Venezuela. Late last night, his mistress bent to the wishes of his wife and agreed to allow his body to return to Caracas.

After a ceremony yesterday at St. Thomas the Apostle church in South Miami, Perez's mistress and two daughters who live in Miami sent a statement to El Nuevo Herald that they wouldn't fight his wife's plans to bury him in his homeland.

"The family Pérez Matos is not going to challenge the action of the family Pérez Rodriguez on the transfer of President Carlos Andrés Pérez," the statement said, according to the Herald. "(We are) absolutely convinced that Carlos Andrés Pérez now belongs to Venezuela and all Venezuelans."

Original Post:
Perez -- who died here on Saturday after a heart attack -- was set to be buried in Miami today after a memorial mass, but Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Gerald Hubbart ordered a local funeral home to stop, the AP reports.

At issue is a feud between Perez's first wife, Blanca Perez, and Cecilia Matos, whom the wire service describes as his mistress.

Perez says that since the ex-president never officially divorced her and left no written instructions about his burial, she has the right to inter him in Venezuela.

Matos and Perez's two daughters who live in Miami, however, have vowed that the leader's body won't return in Venezuela until Hugo Chavez is gone.

In the saddest bit of news in the story, one of Perez's daughters in Venezuela tells the AP that she learned about her dad's passing through Twitter.

Hubbart hasn't set a deadline to resolve the argument.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink