Diosdado Cabello

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Cabello and the second or maternal family name is Rondón.
Diosdado Cabello
Diosdado Cabello 2013.jpg
President of the National Assembly of Venezuela
Assumed office
5 January 2012
Preceded by Fernando Soto Rojas
President of Venezuela
In office
13 April 2002 – 14 April 2002
Preceded by Pedro Carmona (interim)
Succeeded by Hugo Chávez
Vice President of Venezuela
In office
13 January 2002 – 28 April 2002
President Hugo Chávez
Preceded by Adina Bastidas
Succeeded by José Vicente Rangel
Minister of Interior and Justice
In office
28 April 2002 – 10 January 2003
Preceded by Ramón Rodríguez Chacín
Governor of Miranda
In office
Preceded by Enrique Mendoza
Succeeded by Henrique Capriles Radonski
Personal details
Born (1963-04-15) April 15, 1963 (age 52)
El Furrial, Monagas State, Venezuela
Political party
  • 1997–2008 MVR
  • 2008–present PSUV
Spouse(s) Marlenys Contreras
Children 4
Profession Engineer

Diosdado Cabello Rondón (born 15 April 1963[1]) is a Venezuelan politician, Speaker of the National Assembly of Venezuela and active member of the Venezuelan armed forces. He was involved in Hugo Chávez’s return to power after the 2002 coup d'état. He became a leading member of Chavez’s Movimiento V República (MVR), and remains a leading member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, into which MVR was merged in 2007. Governor of Miranda from 2004 to 2008, he lost the 2008 election to Henrique Capriles Radonski, and was subsequently appointed Public Works & Housing Minister. In November 2009 he was additionally appointed head of the National Commission of Telecom, a position traditionally independent from Ministry of Public Works and Housing.[2] In 2010, he was elected a member of parliament by his home state of Monagas. In 2011, President Hugo Chávez named him Vice-President of Venezuela’s ruling party, the PSUV.[3] In 2012, he was elected and sworn in as President of the National Assembly of Venezuela, the country’s parliament.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Diosdado Cabello was born in El Furrial, Monagas State.[1] His background is in engineering. He has an undergraduate degree in systems engineering from the Instituto Universitario Politécnico de las Fuerzas Armadas Nacionales[1] and a graduate degree in engineering project management from the Andrés Bello Catholic University.[1]

Military career[edit]

While at Instituto Universitario Politécnico de las Fuerzas Armadas Nacionales, Cabello befriended Hugo Chávez and they played on the same baseball team.[5]

During Chávez’s abortive coup d'état of February 1992, Cabello led a group of four tanks to attack Miraflores Palace.[5] Cabello was jailed for his participation in the coup, though President Rafael Caldera, who had prior knowledge of the coup, later pardoned him with the rest of the coup participants and Cabello was released after only two years without any charges.[6]

Political career[edit]

Cabello speaking in 2013.

Following Chávez’s 1998 electoral victory, he helped set up the pro-Chávez grassroots civil society organizations known as "Bolivarian Circles". He was head of telecoms regulator Conatel during the time the market was opened to competition. In May 2001 he became Chavez' chief of staff, and was appointed Vice President by President Hugo Chávez on January 13, 2002, replacing Adina Bastidas.[6] As such, he was responsible to both the president and the National Assembly, and for the relations between the executive and legislative branches of the government.

On April 13, 2002, he took on the duties of the presidency on a temporary basis, replacing Pedro Carmona, head of the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce, as interim president during the coup d'état attempt when Chávez was kept prisoner and was consequently absent from office.[7] Upon taking office, Cabello said that "I, Diosdado Cabello, am assuming the presidency until such time as the president of the republic, Hugo Chávez Frías, appears." A few hours later, Chávez was back in office. This made Cabello’s presidency the world’s second briefest, after that of Mexican President Pedro Lascuráin.

On April 28, 2002, Cabello was replaced as Vice President by José Vicente Rangel. Cabello was named interior minister in May 2002,[8] and then infrastructure minister in January 2003.

Miranda State Governor Election, 2008 Results
Source: CNE data
Candidates Votes  %
Henrique Capriles Radonski 583.795 53,11%
Diosdado Cabello 506.753 46,10%

In October 2004, Cabello was elected to a four-year term as Governor of Miranda State. He lost the 2008 election to Henrique Capriles Radonski, and was subsequently appointed Public Works & Housing Minister. In November 2009 he was additionally appointed head of Conatel.[2]

In 2011 Cabello was installed as the Vice-President of the United Socialist Party (PSUV), thus becoming the second most powerful figure in the party after Hugo Chávez.[9]

Cabello was appointed president of the National Assembly in early 2012 and was re-elected to that post in January 2013.[10]

Cabello’s current status after the death of Hugo Chávez is disputed. Some argue that Cabello is constitutionally the acting President while the power remains in the hands of Nicolás Maduro.[11]

TV program[edit]

Cabello has his own weekly program on state TV, Con el Mazo Dando (Hitting with the Sledge Hammer).[12][13] In that program Cabello talks about the government's view on many political issues and presents accusations against the opposition. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has expressed concerns about how the program has intimidated people that went to the IACHR denouncing the government.[14] Some Venezuelan commentators have compared the use of illegally recorded private conversations on programs such as Cabello's to the practices in place in the German Democratic Republic as shown in the film The Life of Others.[15]

Amnesty International has denounced the way in which Cabello has revealed details on the travel arrangements of two human rights defenders in his program and how he routinely shows state monitoring of people that may disagree with the government.[16]

Corruption allegations[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Corruption in Venezuela § Diosdado Cabello.

Capello was nicknamed "the octopus" for having "tentacles everywhere".[17] He is very influential in the Venezuelan government, using a network of patronage throughout the military, ministries and pro-government militias.[17]

Information presented to the United States State Department by Stratfor claimed that Cabello was "head of one of the major centers of corruption in Venezuela."[18] A Wikileaked U.S. Embassy cable from 2009 characterized Cabello as a “major pole” of corruption within the regime, describing him as “amassing great power and control over the regime’s apparatus as well as a private fortune, often through intimidation behind the scenes.” The communiqué likewise created speculation that “Chavez himself might be concerned about Cabello's growing influence but unable to diminish it.”[19][20] He is described by a contributor to The Atlantic as the "Frank Underwood" of Venezuela under whose watch the National Assembly of Venezuela has made a habit of ignoring constitutional hurdles entirely—at various times preventing opposition members from speaking in session, suspending their salaries, stripping particularly problematic legislators of parliamentary immunity, and, on one occasion, even presiding over the physical beating of unfriendly lawmakers while the assembly was meeting.[19][21][22]


Cabello has been accused on several occasions of nepotism.[23] His wife, Marlenys Contreras, served as a member of the National Assembly until she became minister of tourism in 2015.[24] Cabello’s sister, Glenna, is a political scientist and current Counsellor of the Venezuelan Permanent Mission to the United Nations.[25] His brother, José David, previously minister of infrastructure, was later in charge of the nation’s taxes as head of SENIAT, Venezuela’s revenue service.[9] Now José David is minister of Industries.

Drug trafficking[edit]

Allegations of corruption involving Cabello includes being head of an international drug trafficking organization,[26][27] accepting bribes from Derwick Associates for public works projects in Venezuela,[18] using nepotism to reward friends and family members[19] and directing colectivos while paying them with funds from Petróleos de Venezuela.[28] In 2013, there were at least 17 formal corruption allegations lodged against Cabello in Venezuela's prosecutors office.[29]

On January 27, 2015, reports accusing Cabello of drug trafficking emerged.[30][31][32] In a series of investigations by the United States government, it was stated that Cabello's alleged involvement in the drug trade as the "capo" [sic] (head) of the Cartel of the Suns (Spanish Cartél de los soles), had also involved high-ranking generals of Venezuelan military.[33][34][35] Cabello has also been accused by the Human Rights Foundation president of corruption and drug trafficking.[36]


  1. ^ a b c d Vicepresidencia de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Diosdado Cabello Rondón, accessed 19 April 2010
  2. ^ a b "Chavez eliminates autonomy of broadcasting commission," Informe21, Nov 11, 2009.
  3. ^ "Primer vicepresidente del PSUV: Diosdado Cabello". Agencia Venezolana de Noticias. 
  4. ^ "Diosdado Cabello is the new president of the National Assembly". El Universal. 
  5. ^ a b DeCórdoba, José; Forero, Juan (18 May 2015). "Venezuelan Officials Suspected of Turning Country into Global Cocaine Hub; U.S. probe targets No. 2 official Diosdado Cabello, several others, on suspicion of drug trafficking and money laundering". Dow Jones & Company Inc. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  6. ^ a b [1]"Chavez Dismisses Vice President," Associated Press, Jan 13, 2002.
  7. ^ His first order was to send a group of elite navy troops to rescue Mr Chavez, who was being held prisoner by renegade forces at a base on a Caribbean island. "Venezuela National Assembly chief: Diosdado Cabello". BBC News. 5 January 2013. 
  8. ^ "Venezuela president names new cabinet", BBC News, May 6, 2002.
  9. ^ a b "Venezuela National Assembly chief: Diosdado Cabello". BBC News. 5 January 2013. 
  10. ^ "Venezuela National Assembly re-elects Chavez ally Cabello". BBC News. 5 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "Según la constitución venezolana Diosdado Cabello debería asumir el mando y llamar a elecciones". Diario Uno (in Spanish) (Associated Press). 5 March 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  12. ^ Program site
  13. ^ Venezuelan officials suspected of turning the country into global cocaine hub (Wall Street Journal)
  14. ^ IACHR Expresses Alarm over Intimidation in Venezuela directed against People Who Come before the Inter-American Human Rights System (OAS press release)
  15. ^ La Vida de los Otros (El Nacional)
  16. ^ Amnesty International report on TV program
  17. ^ a b Carroll, Rory (2013). Comandante : myth and reality in Hugo Chávez's Venezuela. Penguin Press: New York. pp. 122–123. ISBN 9781594204579. 
  18. ^ a b "Demanda afirma que Diosdado Cabello recibió sobornos por $50 millones". El Nuevo Herald. 28 March 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  19. ^ a b c [2]
  20. ^ [3]
  21. ^ [4]
  22. ^ [5]
  23. ^ Los dueños de la revolución (El Mundo, Spain)
  24. ^ "Diputada Marlenys Contreras: "La mujer venezolana es Socialista y Revolucionaria"". Asamblea Nacional. Archived from the original on 7 January 2013. 
  25. ^ "Assembly Hears Report from Sixth Committee". United Nations News and Media. 6 December 2010. Archived from the original on 7 January 2013. 
  26. ^ Maria Delgado, Antonio (26 January 2015). "Identifican a Diosdado Cabello como jefe del Cartel de los Soles". El Nuevo Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  27. ^ Blasco, Emili J. (27 January 2015). "El jefe de seguridad del número dos chavista deserta a EE.UU. y le acusa de narcotráfico". ABC. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  28. ^ "NC COMMAND ATTACKS CRIMINAL TEAM: Diosdado Cabello-Freddy Bernal-Eliezer Otaiza". Ahora Vision. 29 March 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  29. ^ [6] [7]
  30. ^ "El jefe de seguridad del número dos chavista deserta a EE.UU. y le acusa de narcotráfico". ABC (Spain). 27 January 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  31. ^ Antonio Maria Delgado (26 January 2015). "Identifican a Diosdado Cabello como jefe del Cartel de los Soles". El Nuevo Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  32. ^ "Jefe de seguridad de Cabello habría huido a EE.UU. para acusarle de narcotráfico, según ABC". NTN24. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  33. ^ Supuesta investigación señala que Diosdado Cabello sería jefe de cartel de narcotráfico
  34. ^ Diosdado Cabello y el “Cartel de los Soles”
  35. ^ Cartel de los Soles: Las rutas del narco de Diosdado
  36. ^ Presidente de Human Rights Foundation denuncia por corrupción a Diosdado Cabello
Political offices
Preceded by
Adina Bastidas Ramírez
Vice President of Venezuela
13 January 2002 – 28 April 2002
Succeeded by
José Vicente Rangel Vale
Preceded by
Pedro Carmona
(de facto)
President of Venezuela

13 April 2002 – 14 April 2002
Succeeded by
Hugo Chávez
Preceded by
Ramón Rodríguez Chacín
Minister of Interior and Justice
May 2002 – January 2003
Succeeded by
Lucas Rincón Romero
Preceded by
Enrique Mendoza
Governor of Miranda
Succeeded by
Henrique Capriles Radonski