Deadly Siege of Venezuela Rebels Led by Former Action Hero Transfixes Country

In June, he and a small group commandeered a helicopter in the capital, Caracas. They used it to drop grenades onto the Supreme Court building and open fire on the Interior Ministry in a brazen midday attack.

Mr. Pérez then unfurled a banner calling on Venezuelans to rebel against Mr. Maduro, to the cheers of protesters below. He later released a video in which he and a masked band repeated their calls of rebellion.

While no one was injured in that attack, it was an embarrassment for the government, and it vowed to capture him.

It also signaled the rise of one of the most improbable figures in Venezuela’s political turmoil last year: a police officer who had once starred in a low-budget action movie about a crime squad. Now, it seemed, he was playing a real-life version of the character he had portrayed.

On Monday, Venezuelans were glued to the unfolding events on social media. Early in the morning, Mr. Perez announced that his location had been discovered. Then he began releasing a series of videos.


Óscar Pérez speaking at a vigil in Caracas last year to honor people killed during months of antigovernment protests in Venezuela.

Miguel Rodriguez/Associated Press

“We’re negotiating with the officials and the prosecutors,” he says calmly into the camera in one of the first messages, appearing in a dark room. Other rebels can be heard in the background shouting into phones.

In a later video, posted after daybreak, Mr. Pérez turns the camera outside, where government officials can be seen calling up to him.

“We’re not criminals,” he tells them. “We’re patriots who are fighting for our convictions.”

In the videos, Mr. Pérez is heard saying repeatedly that his group will surrender because it is accompanied by civilians. He says they do not want a fight.

But in a later video, the two sides appear…

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