Venezuela’s Vice-President Says Chavez Government is “Paying for the Deaths of Past Governments”

Vice-President Rangel said that with the payment of four million dollars to the victims' families of the 1989 "Caracazo", the government is taking responsibility for human rights abuses committed by previous governments.

March 19, 2004—Vice-President José Vicente Rangel said that during the previous governments a “total and absolute impunity was practiced, where no accusations could be made and so there were a great number of victims.”

Rangel made his comments yesterday during the inauguration of a National Commission for the Rescue of the Names of the Disappeared, in reference to the disappeared during the forty years prior to the Chavez government.

Rangel highlighted that the Chavez government recently authorized eight billion bolivars ($ 4 million) to be paid as indemnities to the families of victims of the February 27, 1989 massacres perpetrated by the government of Carlos Andrés Perez. The indemnity was the result of an international court order. Rangel said that the government would make these payments because “it is a faithful defender of human rights abuses, contrary to the previous administrations, which managed impunity as a primordial factor.”

Between three hundred and one thousand people were said to have been killed by state security forces in the days following the riots of February 27, 1989.

With regard to the recent accusations of human rights abuses during the Chavez government, Rangel said, “Wherever a human rights violation is committed, these will be sanctioned and this is why it is very important that the Venezuelan people, those who do not know the history may now it. And the best way to do this is with the faces of the families who lost their parents, their husbands, their mothers, during an epoch when we formally had democracy but in practice could not count on it.”

The cases of human rights violations that the government currently faces will be investigated in depth, according to Rangel, but these cases cannot be interpreted “as a systematic practice of torture and violations” of the government.

Rangel also reminded the audience that there are 66 cases of peasant leaders who have been assassinated in the past few years, where the primary suspects are cattle ranchers and assassins hired by members of the opposition, whose deaths the opposition never mentions.

“Those who assassinated and disappeared people in the past are the same ones who currently oppose the government: Acción Democratica and Copei. All of these political franchises have their hands stained with the blood of the past and this blood cannot be washed away and they will not wash it off by invoking human rights now, hypocritically covering themselves with the flag of human rights.”

Source: Venpres