PARANOIA

Venezuela's Coup Fears

It's a tough job being a high-ranking military official in Venezuela—one minute you're running the show, the next minute you're being dragged into a prison cell with a gun to your temple. That was the case for Raul Isaias Baduel, the former army chief of the country who was ordered detained by President Hugo Chavez last month. Baduel is only the latest officer to be arrested on suspicion of planning a coup as the increasingly paranoid Chavez has thrown admirals and generals into prison as well. For Baduel, the move was a major reversal of fortune. In 2002, he led a paratrooper operation that successfully repelled a coup attempt against Chavez. But after retiring, Baduel became a critic of the Venezuelan president in 2007, taking Chavez to task over his efforts to expand his power and authority of the state. “Chavez does not have the support he thinks he has in the armed forces,” Baduel, 53, told The New York Times.