Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has offered condolences after the death of the country’s former leader Carlos Andres Perez, but said he hoped his long-time adversary’s style of governing never returns to the country.
Mr Perez, 88, who governed Venezuela from 1974-79 and from 1989-93, died in Miami, Florida, on Saturday.
Left-winger Mr Chavez, who led a failed coup attempt against him in 1992, said Mr Perez’s family had a right to bring his body to Venezuela for burial if they wished, but relatives were adamant he would be laid to rest in Miami.
“May he rest in peace. But with him… may the form of politics that he personified rest in peace and leave here forever,” Mr Chavez said in a televised speech in western Venezuela, accompanied by Bolivian president Evo Morales.
Mr Chavez said Mr Perez led governments that violated citizens’ rights and were subservient to US interest.
“We send his relatives our regrets, our regrets, and our wish that that old, egotistical.. way of doing politics never again returns to Venezuela,” Mr Chavez said.
He said a relative of Mr Perez had asked someone close to the Venezuelan government for permission to fly the body to Venezuela for burial, and Mr Chavez said “they have every right”.
But relatives in Miami said they had no intention of returning his remains to Venezuela until Mr Chavez was no longer in office. They said Mr Perez would be buried in Miami on Wednesday following a wake on Tuesday.
Mr Perez’s daughter, Maria Francia Perez, said neither she nor her sister Cecilia had contacted the Venezuelan government and that her father “was never in agreement with returning with anti-democratic governments like the current one” in power.
Mr Perez lived out his final years in Miami while Mr Chavez’s government demanded he be turned over to stand trial for his role in quelling bloody 1989 riots in Caracas.