CARACAS – Venezuelan military prosecutors charged a retired general who had become an opponent of the government of President Hugo Chavez with the crimes of “insulting” the armed forces and “revealing private or secret information” about the armed forces, the media said Tuesday.
Gen. Antonio Rivero was ordered to appear in court Wednesday, defense attorney Guillermo Heredia told the press.
The crimes of “insulting” the armed forces and “revealing private or secret information” carry with them respective prison terms of 3-8 years and 4-10 years, the lawyer said.
Rivero was the head of the national civil defense corps for several years and won praise for his work in that post from both supporters and critics of the leftist Chavez government.
The general resigned last March after complaining that Cuban military personnel were performing “planning ... tasks of the military organization ...and training” in the Venezuelan armed forces.
Rivero told Globovision television on Monday that he had information that he could be charged by military prosecutors, but he downplayed those rumors arguing that he had presented his complaints about the alleged Cuban interference in the armed forces to the Venezuelan Attorney General’s Office and congress.
“I spoke in the name of the armed forces, and in another order I presented at the proper and appropriate moment the (corresponding) complaints,” Rivero told the network.
In March, Chavez downplayed Rivero’s complaints about the “Cubanization” of the military and said that the behavior of the retired general was “sad.”
“What Cubanization?” the president asked. “The Cubans are helping us here!”
There are some 60,000 Cuban personnel in Venezuela, including both teachers and medical workers, according to official figures. EFE