The Venezuelan government on Wednesday swore in a commission that will investigate "state terrorism" crimes it attributed to the administrations that alternated in power between 1958 and 1998.
During a ceremony to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the popular revolt known as the "Caracazo," Vice President Nicolas Maduro and the president of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, constituted the "Truth and Justice Commission," the leadership of which will be comprised of Attorney General Luisa Ortega and other officials.
Maduro said before dozens of people attending the ceremony on the capital's central square that the perpetrators of state terrorism "never imagined that justice would reach them."
He added that "the decadent and battered right who yesterday massacred the people is the same one of today" that opposes the government of President Hugo Chavez, who did not participate in the ceremony because he is still recovering in a Caracas hospital after undergoing surgery last December in Cuba for a recurrence of cancer.
The Caracazo, which involved riots and much looting, broke out on Feb. 27, 1989, in the residential neighborhoods of Caracas to protest price hikes and the neoliberal, pro-market reforms imposed by the Carlos Andres Perez government following International Monetary Fund recommendations, and it was brutally put down by the army and police.
The government at the time acknowledged that 300 people were killed but up to 3,000 - according to press accounts - may have lost their lives in the two days of violence that occurred a month after the start of the second administration of Perez, who died in Miami in 2010.
Maduro announced the allocation of the equivalent of $1.9 million dollars to indemnify 34 families of "the more than 3,000" people he said were killed - mainly by security forces - during the Caracazo.
He also noted that Chavez four years ago had signed a decree ordering the payment of indemnities to victims of human rights violations as they can be identified.
Attorney General Ortega said that there are 1,635 registered cases of disappearances for political reasons during the 40 years of Venezuela's 4th Republic - that is, the period during which social democratic and Christian democratic governments alternated in power after the 1958 end of the military dictatorship up to Chavez's first election victory in 1998. EFE