General Raúl Isaías Baduel, a former ally of Hugo Chávez and a political prisoner in Venezuela since 2009, died this Tuesday, aged 66, of a cardiopulmonary arrest as a result of Covid-19, according to Chavez authorities. Baduel, who was once Venezuela’s defense minister, was the highest-ranking military man imprisoned by the country’s dictatorship.
His family members do not believe that Baduel was with Covid-19 and, the day before his death, his daughter had denounced that he was at an intelligence service “torture center” in Caracas.
“We regret the death of Raúl Isaías Baduel of a cardiorespiratory arrest as a result of Covid-19, while he was under corresponding medical care. He had already received the first dose of the vaccine. We offer our condolences to family and friends,” said the attorney general Tarek William Saab on Twitter.
The organization Amnesty International on Tuesday demanded clarification on the death of the military and said that Baduel spent years detained “in inhumane conditions”.
“Raul Baduel dies in state custody, days after his family reported his transfer [ao presídio] El Helicoide, and without any notification about his health,” wrote Erika Guevara Rosas, director of Amnesty International for the Americas, on her Twitter profile.
“General Baduel spent years detained in inhumane conditions. We demand justice and that his death be clarified,” he added.
On September 29, Andreina Baduel, the general’s daughter, denounced that her father had been transferred from the place where he was imprisoned, in the basement of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin), known as “The Tomb”, to another headquarters of this agency in Caracas.
“We demand that their conditions be verified, we demand proof of life. Enough already,” she wrote, but there was no official response to the request.
The soldier’s family reported that they learned about the death through social networks. “I haven’t received a call from any government person,” his wife, Cruz Zambrano, said in an interview with EVTV. She also said she didn’t believe her husband had contracted Covid-19.
“He didn’t have Covid, that’s not true. When they took him out [da sede do Sebin] it didn’t have Covid,” Zambrano said in a telephone interview with the network.
This Wednesday, Baduel’s family went to the morgue to demand that the body of the former minister not be cremated. “We are not going to allow my father’s body to be cremated at this time,” one of her daughters said in statements to local media. For the family, a cremation could disrupt the process of investigating the causes of death.
who is the general
Baduel, who was a staunch ally of the late former president Hugo Chávez, was considered the architect of his return to power after the coup d’état that overthrew him for 48 hours in April 2002. The general was also defense minister between 2006 and 2007.
Later, Baduel took a stand against a totalitarian shift by the Chavez leader and the constitutional reform he proposed.
In 2009, the general was arrested and banned from holding public office until the end of his sentence. In 2015, he was released on parole under conditions that, according to Venezuelan justice, he did not fulfill, which made him go back to prison in 2017, the year in which he was supposed to complete his sentence.
Baduel was later charged with new crimes, including against the integrity of the nation and independence, which led to his sentence being extended indefinitely.
Although the Venezuelan dictatorship granted pardons to countless opponents, Baduel was never on the lists of those who received amnesty. Her case is included in several reports by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.