International News

Hugo Chavez Emerges as Voice of Reason in Fight Over Carlos Andres Perez's Remains

​We have taken our fair share of shots at Hugo Chavez over the years. But in the tug-of-war over the remains of former Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Perez, Chavez has somehow come across as a veritable voice of reason.

Yesterday Chavez pleaded for a quick resolution to the familial dispute that has kept Perez -- who Chavez tried to oust in a 1992 coup -- from resting in peace.

"Now they have informed me that sadly a lawsuit has been filed and the body, which demands a Christian grave, cannot be buried until the lawsuit is resolved," Chavez said on a trip to Brazil. "What a horrible thing, someone will have to call his daughters."

The relatively charitable comments are a bit of a surprise given Chavez's dislike for Perez. Chavez blamed CAP for the Caracazo riots that killed hundreds, perhaps thousands in 1989, and cited the deaths as a reason for his 1992 coup.

The animosity was and remains mutual. Perez's family has said they have no intention of returning the body to Venezuela as long as Chavez is in power, although it seems the burial feud is more familial than political.

While Chavez hasn't been all roses and sunshine about CAP's passing -- he said that he hoped Perez's policies "rest in peace" along side him -- the current Venezuelan prez also warmly greeted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while in Brazil. Relations between the two countries have thawed slightly in the past week. On Monday, the State Department even indicated it would nominate a new ambassador to Venezuela. Just don't expect the two countries to be all warm and snugly like they were back when Perez was in charge.

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.