Perez’s mistress gives way to wife
MIAMI – Capping a series of events straight out of a telenovela, the mistress of charismatic and controversial former Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez agreed yesterday to honour his estranged wife’s wishes and allow his body to be buried in his homeland.
Perez’s longtime partner Cecilia Matos and the couple’s two adult daughters had planned to bury him in South Florida after a mass yesterday.
But less than 24 hours before the ceremony, lawyers for wife Blanca Rodriguez de Perez went to court and convinced a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge to issue an order stopping it.
One of his daughters with Matos, Maria Francia Perez, told The Associated Press yesterday that his body would remain at the funeral home until it could be sent back to Venezuela.
“Returning him is a manner of offering a tribute to him,” she said. “Carlos Andres Perez moved on to belong, now to Venezuela and to all Venezuelans.”
Rodriguez, who lives in Venezuela, maintained that she had the right to decide what happened to Perez’s body because, while the two were separated, they never legally divorced. She also claims Perez left no written instructions regarding his remains.
Their daughter, Carolina Perez, told The Associated Press in Caracas: “They’re still married and the law is very clear in Venezuela and in the United States: when the person dies, the one who has the right to reclaim the body is the spouse, and we exercised that right.”
Matos, once Perez’s secretary, was frequently identified as his current wife. It is not clear if they ever married and their daughter would not say.
The revelations regarding Perez’s personal life surprised many in Venezuela as they prepared to say goodbye to their former president, who died Saturday in Miami at 88.
His family in the United States had said Perez did not want to be buried in Venezuela until President Hugo Chavez, who led a failed 1992 coup against him, leaves office.
Perez’s family in Venezuela wants him buried there next to his daughter Thais, who died 15 years ago. (AP)