Two wives settle dispute over ex-Venezuelan leader

The mistress of former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Pérez has agreed to allow his estranged wife to bury him in Venezuela after a feud erupted over the former president’s final resting place.

In a statement Wednesday, Perez’s former secretary and longtime partner Cecilia Matos and their two daughters said they would not contest the removal of Perez’s body to be buried elsewhere.

Perez’s first wife, Blanca Pérez, wants him buried in Venezuela, where one of his daughters with her, Thais, died 15 years ago.

The former president died Saturday, Christmas Day, in a Miami hospital of a heart attack. He was 88 years old.

His relatives in southern Florida planned to lay him to rest there Wednesday, but a Miami judge ordered a delay until the matter was settled.

Ms. Matos, who has frequently been identified as Perez’s wife, had said she and her daughters would not return Perez’s remains to Venezuela until current President Hugo Chávez leaves office. Pérez survived a 1992 coup attempt led by Chávez, who at the time was an army lieutenant colonel.

In later years, Pérez became a strong critic of Chávez.

Pérez was elected president of Venezuela in 1974 after a long career in politics. Among his first major acts was nationalizing the nation’s oil industry at a time when global prices were soaring.

Pérez lost re-election in 1978, but returned to the presidency in 1989.

Although he survived two coup attempts, including the one led by Chávez, Perez was later brought down when the Venezuelan congress impeached him on corruption charges.

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