Monday, January 24

Raúl Baduel, the Venezuelan general who defied Hugo Chávez, dies in prison | International

The then president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, and Raúl Baduel, defense minister, in an August 2006 image in Caracas.
The then president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, and Raúl Baduel, defense minister, in an August 2006 image in Caracas.GREGORIO MARRERO (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Venezuelan General Raúl Isaías Baduel (Guárico, 1955-2021), Defense Minister of Hugo Chávez and, years later, one of the most enlightened adversaries of the Venezuelan Government in the military field, has died in prison a victim of covid- 19.

Baduel, 66, had been imprisoned in the Ramo Verde military prison and later in La Tumba, a maximum security cell famous for its draconian conditions in one of the basements of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service. Later, he was transferred to El Helicoide. Since 2019 he was in a maximum security prison in Fort Tiuna, an important military plaza in Caracas.

Imprisoned between 2009 and 2015, Baduel was arrested again in 2017 on charges of violating his probation and conspiring against the government. In 2018, he was demoted and dismissed from the National Armed Forces along with other officers involved in activities considered conspiratorial.

“We regret the death of Raúl Isaías Baduel from a cardiorespiratory arrest caused by covid-19, which occurred while the corresponding medical care was being applied and he had received the first dose of the vaccine. We convey our condolences to his family and friends, ”said Tarek William Saab, attorney general of the Chavista regime.

Born in Las Mercedes del Llano, in the State of Guárico, on July 6, 1955, Baduel was one of the most complete and respected officers of his generation in the Armed Forces. In 1982, the also close friend of Hugo Chávez, had participated in the founding of the 200 Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement, the initial conspiratorial cell of Chavismo against the governments of democracy in the late twentieth century.

A soldier away from the political debate for many years, Baduel was remembered for leading, from the city of Maracay – the country’s military epicenter – the Operation Restitution of Dignity, destined to ignore the government established after the fall of Hugo Chávez on April 11, 2002 and to restore the authority of Chavismo in the country.

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The movement of the battalions commanded by Baduel made possible the rescue and return of Hugo Chávez to power when everything seemed to indicate that he had been deposed after a popular rebellion that resulted in a civil-military conspiracy.

Baduel’s deed further strengthened his personal ties with Hugo Chávez, of whom he was a compadre, and increased his prestige in the Government and the Armed Forces, expanding his fame as a determined, stoic man with a deep religious formation. Since 2004, Baduel has been Chávez’s Minister of Defense. In 2006 he was promoted to General-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

The break with Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution took place at the end of 2007, very shortly after Baduel had passed into retirement, when he issued an unusually risque statement, making public demands on Chávez for surreptitiously imposing a revolutionary model that distorted the constitutional architecture of the country. Baduel’s proclamation came very shortly before the referendum for constitutional reform, a consultation promoted by the government that constituted the first electoral defeat for Chavismo. The reform that sought to increase the powers of the president and the Armed Forces and legally weaken the concept of private property.

“Do not underestimate the analytical capacity of the Armed Forces,” Baduel said at the time, with a warning tone to the Government, when formulating the accusation that the contents of that reform initiative contained an authoritarian and one-man project by Chávez. In Miraflores they knew that Baduel’s words could have an echo in the barracks.

Baduel’s statements had an effect on that close consultation, lost by Chávez, who considered those words a betrayal of his partner and friend. Little by little, the commander would carry out his revenge and Baduel’s personal ordeal would begin.

After spending six years in the Ramo Verde military prison, under corruption charges, Baduel was released in 2015, after Chávez died. The political police followed in his footsteps, since they knew that General Baduel was a listened and respected military leader, who was beginning to move his keys and hold meetings at a time when new protests against Maduro were emerging in the streets and the siege was strengthening. of the opposition.

Upon his return to prison in 2017, Baduel was treated with greater cruelty by the Chavista authorities. Like other internees in La Tumba, he spent months in a small dungeon illuminated with white light, without access to the sun, unable to distinguish night from day, without knowing the time, with freezing temperatures due to the air conditioning, isolated while tiny portions of food it was passed through a small device on the access door.

One of Baduel’s sons, Raúl Emilio, was taken to prison for sedition and amnestied in 2018. Another, Adolfo, is imprisoned for his participation in the Operation Gideon, a failed subversive attempt by Venezuelan opposition exiles against the government of Nicolás Maduro in 2019. Andreína, Baduel’s other daughter, had demanded to know the prison conditions of her father, whose whereabouts were unknown, and had denounced cruel treatment against her brother.

“With the death of Raúl Baduel, there are now 10 political prisoners who die in custody,” Gonzalo Himiob, director of the NGO Foro Penal Venezolano, said in his networks. “The responsibility for the life and health of any detainee rests with the State. Medical treatment is continuously required for prisoners. There are hardly ever adequate answers ”.

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