CARACAS, Venezuela — Former President Carlos Andres Perez, whose popularity soared with Venezuela's oil-based economy but who later faced riots, a severe economic downturn and impeachment, died in Miami, his family said Saturday.
The 88-year-old Perez's daughter, Maria Francia Perez, said her father had died in a Miami hospital.
"He got up fine in the morning. He was very eloquent, happy, but all of a sudden he couldn't breath," she told The Associated Press. She said he was taken to a Miami hospital, where he died. She told the Venezuelan television channel Globovision he had died of a heart attack.
In the final years of his life, Perez came to personify the old guard Venezuelan political establishment bitterly opposed by current President Hugo Chavez. Perez survived two coup attempts in 1992, the first of which was led by Chavez, who was then a young army lieutenant colonel.
In recent years, Perez lived in Miami while the Venezuelan government demanded he be turned over to stand trail for his role in putting down bloody 1989 riots. Perez — who governed Venezuela from 1974-79 and again from 1989-93 — denied wrongdoing.