A strange surprise came yesterday. General Baduel, former savior of Chavez (2002), former defense minister of Chavez, one of his personal own first political prisoners has been released from jail. Sure enough he is blocked at home, but he is out of military jail.
That he served most of his jail sentence on trumped up charges (who is not corrupt inside chavismo?) and thus was "released" to complete the rest of his sentence at home is a mere detail. What is important here is that the regime has dared to release who was a seen as one of Chavez very own political prisoners.
The reader must understand one thing about Venezuela: there are two type of political prisoners, those of the revolution and those that are Chavez personal prisoners, such as judge Afiuni, Baduel and even Lopez, though this one is a prisoner of both. The revolution political prisoners can be jailed or released at will, such are the cases of Ceballos, former mayor of San Cristobal or Simonovis of 2002 fame unjustly jailed for revolutionary political need. There are also Chavez very own political exiles, such as Rosales former Zulia governor and Chavez 2006 campaign opponent, or journalist Poleo. In short, those that Chavez has placed on his very own list in theory cannot benefit from any measure of grace. Only Afiuni did get some alleviation to her plight due to the intense international pressure, but her trial is going fast nowhere.
Thus the importance of Baduel's release. For this to happen there must have been a powerful reason, a significant movement inside chavismo to face down a Chavez order. The reader should be immediately reassured: this mean nothing good for the opposition no matter what a portion of Twitterzuela tried to make of it last night.
You can speculate, offer many readings. Here is mine for those still reading.
The jailing of Baduel had created a rift inside the armed forces. For sure, these were not going to oppose Chavez for many reasons, one being that cash was flowing into their pocket. But there was a rift inside because Baduel as a former defense minister was the voice of the army for a while and as such deserved more respect, even from Chavez. Baduel's jail was a direct message to the army to behave and it was understood as such.
But the resentment remained and now that Chavez is gone the army feels the need to come together again and freeing Baduel goes a long way even if the guy now has little power in it. Thus the real question is why is the army coming back together, taking such a stand?
The situation of the country is deteriorating fast. It is clear now with the recent looting and recent polls that the regime is overstaying its welcome and is decided in leaving nothing standing in its wake. Burnt earth they also call it. The people that will be left behind to try to hold things together, no matter what government comes, are the armed forces that will have to do all the necessary repression.
Thus, for me at least, the army comes together because it not only needs to be united to face coming harder times, but also because it needs to weigh carefully its actions so as not to be blamed for the mess left behind by Chavez. That does not mean the army is good or bad, or that a coup is around the corner. To begin with, a coup is unnecessary as this is already a military regime. What the army is probably doing at this point is getting its act together to intervene as a single voice to dictate to the civilians in the regime what to do, or to rule over a transition regime, or if needs be, to tolerate an opposition government as long as the army goes unscathed of any crime it committed during the Chavez years.
Nothing major happens inside Venezuela without the consent or action of the Army. Releasing Baduel cannot have happened without this one consent as I, for one, am absolutely sure that Maduro would not have released of his own accord a Chavez prisoner, amen of the proven cruelty of Maduro.
That is why Baduel's release is so interesting. All specuatlions maybe allowed, but what this really means is that pieces are moving inside the regime. Perhaps faster than one may surmise.