A total of 147 Bolivarian National Armed Forces, or FANB, officers were promoted to the ranks of general and admiral, including the first woman to hold the highest naval rank, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said.

Carmen Melendez de Maniglia is the first woman to hold the rank of admiral in Venezuela's history, the president said.

"Admiral Maniglia, first Venezuelan woman to make the rank of admiral, that deserves a round of applause for Venezuelan women," Chavez said during a ceremony Tuesday at the Bolivarian Military University that was carried live by state-owned Venezolana de Television, or VTV.

Chavez said he was aware of the "insane critics" who have been ripping him for handing out military promotions ahead of the presidential elections.

"You hear things, including from some who once served as generals in the armed forces ... things, like that I'm giving away ranks as if you didn't deserve these promotions, of course you deserve them," Chavez said.

"The national bourgeoisie ... has always detested" the military, the president said.

Chavez was accompanied at the event by Defense Minister Henry Rangel and Jose Vicente Rangel, a former defense and foreign minister. EFE