July 02, 2008
CARACAS, Venezuela -- An army general protesting the "socialism or death" motto of President Hugo Chavez has been released from military detention, but still could be charged with a crime, his attorney said Wednesday.
Gen. Angel Vivas Perdomo was detained by military intelligence agents Tuesday while driving near his home in the capital.
He was released Tuesday night after being questioned for nearly nine hours, but was ordered not to leave the capital and to report to the military prosecutor's office twice a month, attorney Jose Zaa said.
The government did not say why the general was detained, but the action came after he said publicly that a Cuban-inspired troop salute ordered by Chavez is unconstitutional and violates the military's apolitical tradition.
Vivas Perdomo has asked Venezuela's Supreme Court to toss out the salute, "Fatherland, socialism or death! We will triumph!"
Hours before his detention, he suggested replacing the slogan with a declaration by 19th-century independence hero Francisco de Miranda: "Death to tyranny. Long live freedom!"
The general has not yet been charged with any crime, although authorities notified him they are looking into charges of "offending the armed forces" and insubordination, Zaa said.
"What he did was defend the armed forces and he never disobeyed a single order," Zaa said. "He was just acting in defense of the constitution."
The attorney said Vivas Perdomo was "neither down nor defeated, but he is worried because the procedure against him is unclear."
"The general is not sorry for his actions," Zaa said.
The Defense Ministry, reached through its press office, declined comment on the case.