Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chávez Seeks Tighter Grip on Military

Juan Barreto/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images - President Hugo Chávez, left, in 2004 with Gen. Raúl Isaías Baduel, who is now a critic of Mr. Chávez and a prisoner.

They say prison life can be lonely, but not for Raúl Isaías Baduel, Venezuela’s former army chief and once one of President Hugo Chávez’s confidants, who was detained last month.

Among his cellmates in the Ramo Verde military prison here are a former admiral, Carlos Millán, and Wilfredo Barroso, a onetime general arrested along with Mr. Millán on charges of conspiring to oust Mr. Chávez. Since February, Mr. 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.

The New York Times - Mr. Baduel is held with other former officers in Los Teques.

In March, Mr. Chávez replaced the chiefs of the army, the air force and the Bolivarian Militia, a Cuban-inspired reserve force created to repel what Mr. Chávez repeatedly raises as the threat of an invasion by the United States.

Invasion? Unimaginable; the rancor in the world would be deafening and the act self-defeating. Still, it is possible to understand that Chavez can sell it.

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