The New York Times
October 04, 2008
CARACAS, Venezuela — Military officials have prohibited Raúl Isaías Baduel, a retired general and a former confidant of President Hugo Chávez who is now one of his most strident critics, from leaving the country after accusing him of corruption in connection with his tenure as Venezuela’s defense minister.
The travel ban was imposed late Friday night after military intelligence agents arrested Mr. Baduel and shoved him into an unmarked vehicle in front of two of his children and his wife, who was screaming at the agents, a scene captured on video and replayed repeatedly throughout this country on private television networks.
Rafael Tosta, a lawyer for Mr. Baduel, who was released Friday night, said his client was also required to appear before a military tribunal every 15 days and was prohibited from publicly commenting on the accusations, which revolve around $14.5 million in missing funds.
Mr. Baduel, who helped reinstall Mr. Chávez after a brief coup in 2002, has gone from being a hero of the president’s socialist-inspired revolution to one of its outcasts. Mr. Baduel emerged as one of Mr. Chávez most vocal opponents since resigning as defense minister last year.
Critics of Mr. Chávez said the arrest was a distraction tactic before regional elections in November, when the president’s party will be faced with the possibility of losing control of important states, including Aragua, a bastion of active and retired military personnel where Mr. Baduel is said to wield influence.
“If Baduel had remained quiet, everyone would be happy,” said Ismael García, a congressman who, like Mr. Baduel, broke with Mr. Chávez last year over a proposed constitutional overhaul that would have significantly increased the president’s power. Voters rejected the overhaul last December.