After months of litigation and uncertainty, an agreement has been reached to bury the remains of former Venezuelan President Carlos Andrés Pérez in Venezuela, ending a bitter family feud, their attorneys said Wednesday.
A joint statement by attorneys for both sides said Pérez's remains will return to Venezuela for burial as soon as the proper arrangements are made. It's unclear how long that will take. The feuding sides were Pérez's estranged wife Blanca Rodriguez de Pérez and her family against Cecilia Beatriz Matos Molero and her daughters, María Francia Pérez-Matos and Cecilia Victoria Pérez-Matos.
They agreed it is in the best interests of the families and of Pérez's legacy to end the months-long litigation.
Pérez was Venezuela's president from 1974-79 and 1989-93 and died in Miami in December at age 88.
The agreement came after weeks of closed-door negotiations and avoided a contentious trial that had been scheduled to begin earlier this month but was delayed while talks between the sides continued.
The struggle began when Pérez's estranged wife claimed she had the right to take his body home to Venezuela. Matos, Pérez's longtime companion in Miami, insisted he would never return with political arch-foe Hugo Chavez as president.
The agreement was confidential, said attorney Alex Gonzalez, who represents Blanca Rodriguez de Pérez of Caracas.
"The important thing is that we've been able to comply with the wishes of the president of Venezuela, and his remains are going to return finally to Venezuela," Gonzalez told The Associated Press.
He said arrangements were being made for Pérez to be buried "with dignity." He said that could take weeks to a month.
The agreement is awaiting formal approval by a judge but the legal case will be closed, Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez declined to provide details about what will happen with the documents, computer files and other belongings that Pérez had in Miami. He also didn't say if the Matos family would travel to Venezuela for the burial.
The court case, if it would have continued, hinged on whether Matos could show enough proof that Pérez vowed never to return to Venezuela, alive or dead, as long as Chavez is president.
Pérez left no written burial instructions. His body has been in a temporary crypt during the dispute.
Matos did not answer a call seeking comment, nor did her daughter.
Chavez, meanwhile, has been battling cancer. He said Tuesday that he's improving after undergoing a second round of chemotherapy in Cuba and boasted that he's never felt healthier. The socialist leader has scaled back the length of his speeches recently, saying he is under strict doctors' orders.
This report is based on the Associated Press.