Foreign Policy Blogs

In Venezuela, Dare Not Bite the Hand That Feeds You

Raúl Isaías Baduel, who once served as Venezuela’s defense minister, now faces an 8-year prison sentence after being found guilty on corruption charges. He has already been in prison for more than a year, pending the trial’s outcome. Baduel had resigned his position in the government three years ago over concerns about the regime’s direction, including the expansion of President Hugo Chávez’s power.

Those opposed to the Venezuelan government will likely interpret this ruling as another sign that the country’s leaders do not accept alternative viewpoints, even the critiques of its former allies.

In the world of Chávez loyalty is extremely important. You are either with him or against him – and there are often consequences for those who choose this second option. Anyone who signed a petition in support of a vote to recall President Chávez in 2004 were blacklisted and are banned from working for the state after their names were leaked in what is known as Tascon’s List. In the case of Baduel, even though he played a crucial role by enabling Chávez to regain power during the 2002 coup attempt, his opposition to the expansion of the president’s control appears to have been too much to overlook. He is not the first former official of the administration to be imprisoned.

Supporters of Chávez, however, probably do not see these as trumped up accusations against Baduel. Instead, they likely see the impending punishment as just desserts for charges that nearly $4 million of funds were unaccounted for when he was in office.

Information for this posting comes from the NYT and BBC.



David D. Sussman

David D. Sussman is currently a PhD Candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), in Boston, Massachusetts. Serving as a fellow at the Feinstein International Center, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study the lives of Colombian refugees and economic migrants in Caracas, Venezuela. David has worked on a variety of migrant issues that include the health of displaced persons, domestic resettlement of refugees, and structured labor-migration programs. He holds a Masters in International Relations from the Fletcher School, where he studied the integration of Somali and Salvadoran immigrants. David has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and is fluent in Spanish. He has lived in Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Venezuela, and also traveled throughout Latin America. In his free time David enjoys reading up on international news, playing soccer, cooking arepas, and dancing salsa casino. Areas of Focus: Latin America; Migration; Venezuela.