When we reported on last night's alleged "terrorist coup" attempt by a "rogue police officer" who stole a helicopter and single-handedly attacked the Interior Ministry and the Supreme Court in Venezuela, we had one tangential observation: the attempted "coup" may have been no more a coup than the one which took place last June in Turkey:
this is where the comparisons emerge with the "failed Turkish coup" to "remove" Erdogan last summer, which most admit was a staged attempt meant to further entrench the despotic president. While Venezuela opposition leaders have long been calling on Venezuela's security forces to stop obeying Maduro, following yesterday's event, there was speculation among opposition supporters on social media that the attack could have been staged to justify repression or cover up drama at Venezuela's National Assembly, where two dozen lawmakers said they were being besieged by pro-government gangs.
One day later, even more questions about the legitimacy of the attempted coup have emerged, because as Reuters reports the "rogue police officer" behind the so-called helicopter attack on Venezuelan government buildings is an action film star who paints himself as a James Bond-cum-Rambo figure on social media.
As a reminder, President Maduro said Oscar Perez, a strapping pilot, diver and parachutist, was responsible for firing shots and lobbing grenades on the Interior Ministry and the Supreme Court after hijacking the helicopter. In a social media video, Perez said he was fighting a tyrannical, vile government.
It turns out he may have been also going for the IMDB movie rating: Perez, 36, directed and starred in a 2015 Venezuelan action movie called "Suspended Death" about the rescue of a kidnapped businessman, which includes scenes of him firing a rifle from a helicopter and emerging from water in scuba gear. And, as Reuters adds, he has an unusually public profile for the usually tight-lipped and secretive investigative police.
Perez has given interviews about his film and maintained a colorful Instagram feed with images of him riding horseback in combat gear, scuba-diving with rifles and pistols, and jumping out of a helicopter with a dog.
"I'm a man who goes out into the streets without knowing whether I'll return home," Perez told a local television network in an interview about the film in 2015.
The movie glorifies Venezuela's investigative police as they stage a complex and action-packed rescue using improbably futuristic technology. Asked what inspired him to make the movie, he said a conversation with a young delinquent led him to believe that movies could help change minds.
"(I asked myself) what can we do to create a positive idea, to be a weapon against delinquency? That's how 'Suspended Death' came to be," said Perez in another TV interview.
Though he supposedly claimed to be representing a coalition of disaffected security and civilian officials, there was no immediate evidence that he had further backing. In a 2016 video on Perez's Instagram feed, he stands with his back to a mannequin target and successfully shoots it with the help of a small makeup mirror for aim.
He also appeared in several public service videos including one in which a police officer takes a bribe from a driver he has pulled over, only for the driver to later kill the officer's son. Perez at the end of video looks into the camera and says "Corruption affects all of us. Denounce it."
On Tuesday evening, Perez unfurled a banner from the helicopter with the word, "Freedom!" It was not immediately clear who was paying for this particular movie.
Needless to say, Perez' acting experience and his theatrical photos spurred opposition criticism that Tuesday's incident, which did not include any reports of injuries or deaths, was staged by Maduro as an excuse to clamp down on adversaries.
In retrospect, perhaps Turkey's Erdogan should consult on how to make fake staged coups at least appear realistic.