“We regret the death of Raúl Isaías Baduel from a cardiorespiratory arrest caused by COVID-19”wrote the Venezuelan prosecutor, Tarek Saab, on Twitter. The death of the retired officer occurred “while he was receiving the appropriate medical care” and after having “received the first dose of the vaccine,” added Saab.
The Minister of the Prison Service, Mirelys Contreras, also reported the death of the general.
The general’s family says they learned of the death from Twitter. “I have not even, for charity, received a call from any government figure“, Declared his wife, Cruz Zambrano de Baduel, to the EVTV internet channel.
Zambrano also assured that Baduel, whom he saw for the last time four weeks ago, did not have COVID-19. “To him, when they took him out of the grave [temida cárcel de El Helicoide], he did not have COVID-19. Is not true. I know they vaccinated him a week before taking him out of the grave“.
El Helicoide or ‘La Tumba’ is an arrest center of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebín), in Caracas, on which several complaints of alleged human rights violations weigh.
“My dad @RaulBaduel is kidnapped by the regime in the TORTURE CENTER, Sebin-Helicoide. My Brother @jbaduel is kidnapped and tortured by the regime in the TORTURE CENTER, Sebin-Helicoide, ”wrote his daughter, Andreína Baduel, one of the family’s main spokespersons on Monday.
10 political prisoners have died in custody in Venezuela
“With the death of Baduel there are already 10 political prisoners who die in custody”said lawyer Gonzalo Himiob, from the NGO Foro Penal, dedicated to defending political prisoners. He is the third “political prisoner” to die in custody this year, stressed Alfredo Romero, also a member of Foro Penal.
“The responsibility for the life and health of any detainee rests with the State. Medical treatment is continuously required for prisoners. There is hardly ever an adequate answerHimiob remarked on Twitter. According to Foro Penal, to date there are about 259 “political prisoners” in Venezuela, including 126 military personnel.
Two of Baduel’s sons have also been arrested under allegations of conspiracy.. The first of them, Raúl Emilio, is now free. Josnars Adolfo Baduel was arrested for his alleged participation in a maritime incursion in May 2020 known as ‘Operation Gideon’ that sought the departure of Maduro. He is still under arrest.
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The military’s family, who came to be in the closest environment of Chávez, frequently reported problems visiting him in prison. More recently, they reported that he was being held together with his son Josnars Adolfo in the El Helicoide prison.
The opposition leader Juan Guaidó affirmed that Baduel “was assassinated by the dictatorship.”
“He kidnapped him, tortured him and denied him medical attention. After 12 years of brutal suffering, Baduel is the 10th political prisoner to die at the hands of the regime. Today more than 250 Venezuelans continue to be at risk as hostages of the dictatorship, ”Guaidó said on Twitter.
Baduel, who passed away at age 66, helped reinstate Hugo Chávez after the April 2002 coup that briefly removed him from power. In 2004 he was appointed Commander General of the Army, a position he held until 2006, when he was appointed Minister of Defense.
He retired in 2007. That year he became an opponent of Chavismo, demonstrating against a reform to the Constitution promoted by Chávez. In 2009 he was arrested on corruption charges and served a sentence of almost eight years.
After being released in 2015, he was again incarcerated in 2017 accused of conspiracy against the current president Nicolás Maduro, that dismissed him from the Armed Forces and demoted.