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article imageMissing Venezuelan pilot in chopper attack appears at rally

By AFP     Jul 13, 2017 in Politics

Oscar Perez, the action star helicopter pilot who vanished after dropping grenades on Venezuela's Supreme Court, appeared unexpectedly Thursday at an opposition rally, his first public apperance since the attack.

Perez, who is also an elite police officer, gave brief statements at the event honoring the 95 killed in more than three months of violent anti-government protests before fleeing quickly on a motorcycle.

"It is time for this narco-government to fall," Perez, dressed in olive green and sporting a mask, said at a plaza in eastern Caracas. "It's the zero hour."

Perez urged Venezuelans to turn out for a opposition-organized symbolic vote this Sunday, an effort to voice resistance to President Nicolas Maduro's plans to rewrite the constitution.

"What does Venezuela want?" he shouted, with the crowd responding, "Freedom!"

On June 27, Perez and unidentified accomplices flew over Caracas in a police helicopter and dropped four grenades on the Supreme Court before opening fire on the interior ministry. There were no casualties.

The 36-year-old is one of the men most wanted by Venezuelan authorities, who said they had issued an arrest warrant through Interpol after accusing him of a "terrorist attack."

Prior to Thursday's surprise appearance Perez has twice re-emerged in videos, calling for an anti-Maduro uprising and urging protestors to stand firm.

The opposition has distanced itself from Perez's dramatic actions. Many suspect that Perez might be a frontman hired by the government to justify its crackdown on opponents.

Others think it is a sign of fractures in security forces and state institutions, as Venezuela flails amid a dire economic crisis and months of ongoing deadly street protests against the Maduro government.

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