Raúl Baduel

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Raúl Isaías Baduel
Raúl Isaías Baduel.jpg
Baduel announcing his concerns over the Venezuelan constitutional referendum in 2007
Born (1955-07-06) 6 July 1955 (age 59)
Las Mercedes, Guárico, Venezuela
Allegiance Venezuelan Armed Forces
Years of service 1976–2007
Rank General in Chief
Commands held Defense Minister
Raúl Isaías Baduel
Minister of Defense
In office
25 December 2006 – January 2008
Preceded by Jorge Luis García Carneiro
Succeeded by Gustavo Rangel Briceño
Personal details
Political party United Socialist Party of Venezuela

Raúl Isaías Baduel (born 6 July 1955) is a Venezuelan politician, retired general, and former Defense Minister under President Hugo Chávez. He was a member of Chavez' MBR-200, joining in December 1982.[1]

Military[edit]

In 1993 Baduel attended the School of Americas, an officer training school for Latin American military officers run by the United States Army.[unreliable source?][2] He was instrumental in restoring Chávez to power after the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt, and was described by the BBC as "one of a small group of officers 'co-governing' Venezuela with Mr Chavez".[3] He was commander-in-chief of the Venezuelan Army from 2004 until July 2007.[1][4]

Opposition leader[edit]

In 2007 Baduel left his position as Defense Minister. Chávez later said that he had removed Baduel from office because he had been unable to explain a string of irregularities. He had called his friend into his office and asked him to explain various issues, and he had been unable to do so, and a few days later, he had sacked him.[5]

After retiring as Defense Minister, he emerged in 2007 as an opposition leader,[6] when he publicly broke with Chavez and announced his opposition to the constitutional changes proposed in the 2007 constitutional referendum (defeated via referendum) that would have strengthened the powers of the presidency and removed the restriction on public officials being re-elected.[1] Baduel "emerged as a prominent voice of dissent"[4] concerned that Chavez was taking Venezuela down a "road to ruin" and becoming authoritarian.[7] He became the highest-ranking military person opposed to Chavez's constitutional changes that would "concentrate power in the executive".[8] 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."[8]

Corruption charge[edit]

In October 2008, a "military prosecutor said he was responsible for about $14 million that disappeared during his tenure as defense minister"[4] in a transaction involving the purchase of military equipment.[9] According to The New York Times, "Chávez 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".[4] On 2 April 2009, Baduel was arrested; Baduel said that his arrest was politically motivated,[10] and according to The Guardian, he says "his crime was to realise – and declare – that the president was a tyrant".[11]

The 2009 Human Rights Watch report mentions Baduel as an example of political persecution.[12][13][14] Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter expressed concern about the case,[11] and Steve Ellner, a Venezuelan historian and analyst, noted that "courts overwhelmingly targeted opposition figures. 'Chávez'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.'"[11] In April 2010, Amnesty International accused "the Venezuelan government of deliberately targeting opposition leaders and sympathizers".[9]

In May 2010, Baduel was convicted by a military court of corruption and sentenced to seven years and eleven months in prison; Baduel says he is innocent.[15][16] The military court declared that US$3.9 million was misappropriated, according to interviews with members of various military units; Baduel's daughter said no proof existed and the main evidence was provided by soldiers who claimed to see another officer carrying some black bags.[16][17] From Ramo Verde prison, Baduel sent a Twitter message to family members, saying, "God is with us and divine justice is always active".[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Baduel, Raúl Isaías (1 December 2007). "Why I Parted Ways With Chávez". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ [unreliable source?]Elizalde, Rosa Miriam; Báez, Luis (7 June 2005). "General Raul Baduel: The US are waging a 4th generation war against Venezuela". Voltairenet. Retrieved 31 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "Venezuela: Chavez's key backers". BBC News. 19 March 2004. Retrieved 31 January 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d Romero, Simon (29 May 2009). "Chávez Seeks Tighter Grip on Military". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ HARDtalk with Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, BBC News Channel, 11:30pm Friday 18 June 2010
  6. ^ Walter, Matthew (15 November 2007). "Chavez Ex-Ally Baduel Rallies Opposition to Constitution Change". Bloomberg. 
  7. ^ Forero, Juan (4 October 2008). "Chávez Ally-Turned-Critic Is Detained by Venezuelan Military". The Washington Post. 
  8. ^ a b "Top former general breaks with Chavez over constitutional changes". CNN. 5 November 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "Former Chavez Ally Sentenced to Nearly 8 Years in Prison". Latin American Herald Tribune. 8 May 2010. Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  10. ^ "Chavez foe held over 'corruption'". Al Jazeera. 3 April 2009. 
  11. ^ a b c Carroll, Rory (12 October 2009). "Venezuela's president Hugo Chávez accused of turning tyrant". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-02-08. 
  12. ^ "Venezuela: Events of 2009". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 31 January 2010. 
  13. ^ "Human Rights acusa a Chávez de neutralizar al Poder Judicial". El Universal (in Spanish). 21 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-01. "HWR también cuestionó los procedimientos judiciales iniciados contra el ex gobernador del Zulia y ex alcalde de Maracaibo, Manuel Rosales; y contra el ex ministro de la Defensa, Raúl Baudel, por considerarlos una demostración del uso de los tribunales para perseguir a adversarios del Gobierno." 
  14. ^ Brice, Arthur (8 December 2009). "Venezuelan protesters end hunger strike over prisoners". CNN. Retrieved 31 January 2010. 
  15. ^ Grant, Will (8 May 2010). "Venezuelan ex-defence minister Raul Baduel jailed". BBC. Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  16. ^ a b Rueda, Jorge (8 May 2010). "More than 7 years in prison for Chavez critic". Associated Press. Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  17. ^ Hernández F., Alejandra M. (8 May 2010). "Condenan a Baduel a siete años y 11 meses de prisión". El Universal (in Spanish). Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  18. ^ Fernández, Yaneth (8 May 2010). "Baduel: Dios está con nosotros y su justicia está activa". El Universal (in Spanish). Retrieved 10 May 2010. "Dios está con nosotros y su justicia divina está siempre activa ... Señor Jesús levanta mi alma hacia ti y engrandece mis días, con una gota de tu sangre salvaguarda mi carne y mi espíritu, con una gota de tu agua cubre mis pensamientos, sentimientos y hasta mi verbo, la espada de la justicia divina sesgue la iniquidad de mi derredor y ampara con tu amor y bondad a los míos."