POLITICS

Feud Leaves Pérez's Remains Unburied 10 Days After Death

during a funeral mass for the former Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Perez at the St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Miami, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Perez died Saturday at age 88. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

during a funeral mass for the former Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Perez at the St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Miami, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Perez died Saturday at age 88. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The saga continues.

The body of former Venezuelan President Carlos Andrés Pérez remained in limbo Tuesday after plans to send his body to his homeland were derailed.

Pérez's family in Caracas said in a statement Monday that the plan to fly the body to the capital was canceled because Pérez's longtime companion and daughters in the United States said through their lawyers that they had never agreed to transferring his remains to Venezuela. That decision broke with an apparent agreement reached between relatives in the U.S. and Venezuela last week for the body to be buried in Caracas.

A planned burial was halted in Miami last week after the former president's estranged wife in Caracas, Blanca Rodríguez de Pérez, persuaded a court in Miami to issue an order stopping it. Relatives on both sides said then that they would resolve the issue and agree on when the body would be sent to Venezuela.

Pérez died on Dec. 25 at age 88 in Miami, where he had lived for much of the past decade with his longtime companion and former secretary Cecilia Matos, with whom he had two daughters. Pérez's family in the U.S. had maintained before last week's funeral that he had wanted to be buried in Venezuela only when President Hugo Chavez is no longer in power.

Rodríguez, who lives in Venezuela, has maintained she has the right to decide what happened to Pérez's body because, while the two were separated, they never legally divorced.

One of his daughters in Caracas, Carolina Pérez, told the Venezuelan television channel Globovisión on Monday night that her family is confused by the decision of Pérez's relatives in the U.S., and called it a painful situation for the family.

"What we want is for our father to come here to Venezuela ... for his soul to rest in peace here, in the country in which he fought all his life," she said.

Meanwhile, Pérez's embalmed body remained in a funeral home in Miami, said grandson Gabriel Pérez, who had planned to help coordinate the transfer to Caracas.

"We have no other recourse than to continue in court" and dispute the matter, Pérez told The Associated Press by telephone from London, where he lives.

He said Pérez's relatives had been trying to negotiate with Matos and her daughters, but "it didn't work."

Matos and her daughters could not immediately be reached for comment.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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