General Raul Baduel, former Army Commander-in-Chief, was one of the officers who rose up against the short-lived Carmona government during the April 2002 coup d'etat, when he was chief of the 42nd Airborne Brigade of paratroopers.
Known for his new-age beliefs, General Baduel was the first senior officer to declare his opposition to the coup.
He helped organise the operation that rescued Mr Chavez from prison on the Venezuelan Caribbean military island of La Orchila.
He was subsequently promoted to commander of the Maracay Garrison, before rising to commander-in-chief of the army in January 2004.
President Chavez's military-civilian policy is a central tenet of the Bolivarian revolution, and began with Plan Bolivar 2000, a controversial internal defence and development exercise.
The general has rejected allegations of a rift within the army, saying that the group of dissident officers who declared themselves in legitimate disobedience in October 2002 "have strayed from the path of duty and turned their backs on the Venezuelan state because of a thirst for power and personal gain".
But critics say Gen Baduel is one of a small group of officers "co-governing" Venezuela with Mr Chavez