Venezuelan military personnel
Human rights in Venezuela
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Raul Isaias Baduel (born 6 July 1955) is a Venezuelan politician, retired general, and former Defense Minister under President Hugo Chavez. He was a member of Chavez' MBR-200, joining in December 1982.
In 1993 Baduel attended the School of Americas, an officer training school for Latin American military officers run by the United States Army. He was instrumental in restoring Chavez to power after the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'etat attempt, and was desribed by the BBC as "one of a small group of officers 'co-governing' Venezuela with Mr Chavez". He was commander in chief of the Venezuelan Army from 2004 until July 2007.
After retiring as Defense Minister, he emerged in 2007 as an opposition leader, when he publicly broke with Chavez and announced his opposition to the constitutional changes proposed in the 2007 constitutional referendum (narrowly defeated) that would have strengthened the powers of the presidency and removed the restriction on public officials being re-elected. Baduel "emerged as a prominent voice of dissent" concerned that Chavez was taking Venezuela down a "road to ruin" and becoming authoritarian. He became the highest-ranking military person opposed to Chavez's constitutional changes that would "concentrate power in the executive". In July 2007, he said, "A socialist regime is not incompatible with a democratic system of checks and balances and division of powers. We must separate ourselves from Marxist orthodoxy."
In October 2008, a "military prosecutor said he was responsible for about $14 million that disappeared during his tenure as defense minister"; according to The New York Times, "Chavez has moved against a wide range of domestic critics, and his efforts in recent weeks to strengthen his grip on the armed forces have led to high-profile arrests and a wave of reassignments". On 2 April 2009, Baduel was arrested; Baduel said that his arrest was politically motivated, and according to The Guardian, he says "his crime was to realise and declare that the president was a tyrant". Baduel is in prison awaiting trial, on corruption charges that could see him in jail "for decades".
The 2009 Human Rights Watch report mentions Baduel as an example of political persecution. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter expressed concern about the case, and Steve Ellner, a Venezuelan historian and analyst, noted that "courts overwhelmingly targeted opposition figures. 'Chavez's case would be much stronger if he went after corruption within his own government.' Arresting Baduel neutralised an opponent who could stir trouble in the army. 'Obviously throwing Baduel in jail had a political motivation.'"
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Raul Baduel