Venezuelan general opposing socialist ideology of Hugo Chavez detained

Venezuela's military detained a dissident army general on Tuesday who opposes the socialist ideology espoused by President Hugo Chavez, but the officer's attorney said he expects his client to soon be released.

Gen. Angel Vivas Perdomo was being held by military intelligence agents after they detained him while driving near his home in eastern Caracas, said Vivas Perdomo's lawyer, Jose Zaa.

"We hope that he leaves because he shouldn't be facing charges," Zaa told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Vivas Perdomo has asked Venezuela's Supreme Court to toss out Chavez's order for troops to salute with the motto: "Fatherland, socialism or death - we will triumph." The general claims the motto is unconstitutional and that it violates the military's apolitical tradition.

Zaa said it was not clear why the general was detained.

Hours earlier on Tuesday, Vivas Perdomo told reporters that the Cuban-inspired slogan used by Chavez should be replaced with a historic statement once made by 19th-century independence hero Francisco de Miranda: "Death to tyranny, long live freedom!"

The 51-year-old general has said he turned to the Supreme Court after exhausting all avenues of internal appeal - including a request to Defense Minister Gen. Gustavo Rangel Briceno for the slogan to be eliminated.

He was engineering director at the Defense Ministry until January 2007, when he asked to leave after complaining to his superiors that Chavez was imposing the socialist motto. He plans to retire in July.

Chavez - a former paratroop commander - has recently warned that his opponents are attempting to stir up discontent in the barracks. But the socialist leader says the military is prepared to defeat a possible coup attempt.

Vivas Perdomo denies trying to spur a rebellion within the armed forces.

Chavez survived a short-lived military rebellion in 2002.

AP photo