October 26, 2021
The faithful pray at the Basilica of Nossa Senhora Aparecida, in the city of Aparecida, São Paulo, on the day of celebration of Brazil's patron saint. Photo: Carla Carnell/Reuters

Former Chavez minister who became his opponent with Covid-19 dies in prison in Venezuela

Caracas – Venezuelan General Raoul Baduel He died on Tuesday, aged 66, from Covid-19, Attorney General Tarek Saab said. Hugo Chavez’s defense minister before he became his opponent, J.He is considered one of the most notorious political prisoners in the country and has been in detention for the second time since 2017.

“We regret the death of Raul Izias Baduel as a result of cardiorespiratory arrest due to Covid-19,” Saab wrote on Twitter. According to the attorney general, Baduel had already taken the first dose of the Covid vaccine and received adequate medical care, but he could not resist.

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Founder, with Chavez, of the Bolivarian Movement 200 (MBR-200) – the group that would lead to the Movement of the Fifth Republic, and later to the Socialist United Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the current party in the country’s government – Baduel led the process that returned the president to power in 2002 after a brief coup that lasted three days. In the following years, he was the commander-in-chief of the army, and in 2006, he took over the Ministry of Defense.

But in 2007, his relationship with the Venezuelan president suffered a severe blow. Baduel spoke out against the constitutional reform proposed by Chávez, and advocated the creation of a new Constituent Assembly. Reform was defeated in a referendum, the only setback Chavez faced in popular consultations.

Outside the ministry, he continued to criticize the approaches of his Bolivarian counterpart’s government, expressing concerns about what he described as “state capitalism masquerading as socialism”. Arrested in 2009, Badwell was convicted the following year of embezzlement, abuse of power, and crimes against military decency. Served nearly eight years and then Released in 2015, again on charges of conspiracy against incumbent President Nicolas Maduro.

Baduel is the 10th political prisoner to die in custody in Venezuela, according to attorney Gonzalo Hemop, of the nongovernmental Sanctions Forum. “Responsibility for the life and health of any detainee rests with the state. Medical treatment is constantly required for prisoners. There is absolutely no adequate response,” he wrote on Twitter.

Two of his sons have also been arrested on conspiracy charges, the first of them, Raúl Emilio, who is now at large; And Gusnars Adolfo Baduel, who remains in custody over his alleged participation in a naval raid in May 2019 attempted to withdraw Maduro.

On Twitter, Juan Guaido, an opposition leader and interim president of Venezuela, said that “General Raul Baduel was assassinated by the dictatorship” who “kidnapped, tortured and denied medical care” after “12 years of brutal suffering”. According to him, “today, more than 250 Venezuelans remain at risk as hostages of the dictatorship.”