Diosdado Cabello

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Diosdado Cabello
Diosdado Cabello Rondon.jpg
Cabello in 2019
President of the Constituent Assembly
In office
19 June 2018 – 18 December 2020
PresidentNicolás Maduro
Preceded byDelcy Rodríguez
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela
Assumed office
11 December 2011
PresidentHugo Chávez
Nicolás Maduro
Preceded byPosition established
Acting President of Venezuela
In office
13 April 2002 – 14 April 2002
Preceded byPedro Carmona (acting)
Succeeded byHugo Chávez
Vice President of Venezuela
In office
13 January 2002 – 28 April 2002
PresidentHugo Chávez
Preceded byAdina Bastidas
Succeeded byJosé Vicente Rangel
6th President of the National Assembly
In office
5 January 2012 – 5 January 2016
Preceded byFernando Soto Rojas
Succeeded byHenry Ramos Allup
Governor of Miranda
In office
31 October 2004 – 29 November 2008
Preceded byEnrique Mendoza
Succeeded byHenrique Capriles Radonski
Minister of Interior and Justice
In office
28 April 2002 – 10 January 2003
Preceded byRamón Rodríguez Chacín
Succeeded byLucas Rincón Romero
Personal details
Diosdado Cabello Rondón

(1963-04-15) 15 April 1963 (age 58)
El Furrial, Monagas, Venezuela
Political party
Spouse(s)Marleny Contreras

Diosdado Cabello Rondón (born 15 April 1963[1]) is a Venezuelan politician and current member of the National Assembly of Venezuela, where he previously served as Speaker. He is also an active member of the Venezuelan armed forces, with the rank of captain.

Cabello played a key role in Hugo Chávez's return to power following the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt. He became a leading member of Chavez’s Movimiento V República (MVR), and remains a leading member of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, into which MVR was merged in 2007. Governor of Miranda state from 2004 to 2008, he lost the 2008 election to prominent opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski and was subsequently appointed Public Works & Housing Minister. In November 2009, he was additionally appointed head of the National Commission of Telecommunications, a position traditionally independent from the 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 the 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] He was elected president of the National Assembly each year until 2016. He was the second and last president of the 2017 National Constituent Assembly.

Allegations of corruption involving Cabello includes being head of an international drug trafficking organization,[5][6] accepting bribes from Derwick Associates for public works projects in Venezuela,[7] using nepotism to reward friends and family members[8] and directing colectivos while paying them with funds from Petróleos de Venezuela.[9] In 2013, there were at least 17 formal corruption allegations lodged against Cabello in Venezuela's prosecutors office.[10] On 26 March 2020, the U.S. Department of State offered $10 million for information to bring him to justice in relation to drug trafficking and narco-terrorism.[11]

Often described as the second most,[12][13] if not the most,[citation needed] powerful man in Venezuela, Reuters notes that Cabello possesses significant "sway with the military and lawmakers plus close links to businessmen."[14] Despite serving as the leader of Chavez' party, his overall reputation is that of a pragmatist rather than an ideologue.[14][15]

Early life and education[edit]

Diosdado Cabello was born in El Furrial, in the state of Monagas.[1] In 1987, he graduated second in his class from the Venezuelan Military Academy.[16] His measured intelligence quotient (IQ) was ranked as the fifth-highest among all students in the institution's history.[17][18][19] His background is in engineering. He has an undergraduate degree in systems engineering from the Instituto Universitario Politécnico de las Fuerzas Armadas Nacionales 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.[20]

During Chávez’s abortive coup d'état of February 1992 against the government of then-President Carlos Andrés Pérez, Cabello led a group of four tanks to attack Miraflores Palace.[20] Cabello was jailed for his participation in the coup, though President Rafael Caldera later pardoned him with the rest of the coup participants and Cabello was released after only two years without any charges.[21]

Political career[edit]

After Chávez was released from jail in 1994, Cabello helped him run his political campaign as he was a prominent member of the Fifth Republic Movement Chávez was leading.[citation needed] Following Chávez’s 1998 electoral victory, he helped set up the pro-Chávez grassroots civil society organizations known as "Bolivarian Circles" which have been compared to Cuba's Committees for the Defence of the Revolution and are parent organizations for the Colectivos.

From 1999-2000, Cabello was head of the national telecommunications commission (CONATEL). The main telecommunications law he helped promulgate, known as the "Organic Telecommunications Law" (2000), was especially praised by the private sector.[22] Specifically, it ended the state's prior monopoly on the industry and fostered a significant level of free-market competition, as Cabello's work helped increase the treasury's revenue by $400 million dollars at a time when oil prices were not especially high.[22]

In May 2001, he became Chavez' chief of staff, and was appointed Vice President by President Hugo Chávez on 13 January 2002, replacing Adina Bastidas.[21] 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 13 April 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.[23] 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 28 April 2002, Cabello was replaced as Vice President by José Vicente Rangel. Cabello was named interior minister in May 2002,[24] 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 2009 he was additionally appointed head of Conatel.[2] On 1 August 2009, 32 radio and 2 television stations were intervened,[25] decision ordered by Cabello. The measure was received as an act of censorship by several non-governmental and international organizations.[26][27][28][29]

On 11 December 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.[30]

Cabello was appointed president of the National Assembly in early 2012 and was re-elected to that post in January 2013.[31]

Cabello’s status after the death of Hugo Chávez was disputed. Some argue that Cabello was constitutionally required to be the acting President, but Nicolás Maduro held the position.[32]

Television program[edit]

Cabello has his own weekly program on Venezolana de Televisión, Con el Mazo Dando (Going at it with the Club).[33][34] 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.[35] 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 East Germany as shown in the film The Life of Others.[36]

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.[37]

Personal life[edit]

His wife, Marleny Contreras, was elected as a member of the National Assembly until she became minister of tourism in 2015.[38] Cabello’s sister, Glenna, is a political scientist and was Counsellor of the Venezuelan Permanent Mission to the United Nations.[39] His brother, José David, previously minister of infrastructure, is in charge of the nation’s taxes as head of SENIAT, Venezuela’s revenue service.[30] Now José David is also minister of Industries.

On 9 July 2020, Cabello tested positive for COVID-19, during the pandemic in Venezuela.[40]


Cabello was nicknamed "the octopus" by Rory Carroll for having "tentacles everywhere."[41] He is very influential in the Venezuelan government, using a network of patronage throughout the military, ministries and pro-government militias.[41] 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 [es].[8][42][43]

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."[7] A leaked 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."[8][44]

Drug trafficking[edit]

Allegations of corruption involving Cabello includes being head of an international drug trafficking organization,[5][6] accepting bribes from Derwick Associates for public works projects in Venezuela,[7] using nepotism to reward friends and family members[8] and directing colectivos while paying them with funds from Petróleos de Venezuela.[9] In 2013, there were at least 17 formal corruption allegations lodged against Cabello in Venezuela's prosecutors office.[10]

Reward poster of Cabello from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

On 27 January 2015, reports accusing Cabello of drug trafficking emerged.[45][46][47] 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.[48][49][50]

On 26 March 2020, the U.S. Department of State offered $10 million for information to bring him to justice in relation to drug trafficking and narco-terrorism.[11]

Assassination plot targeting Marco Rubio[edit]

In mid-July 2017, reporters in Washington, D.C. observed an increased security presence surrounding United States Senator Marco Rubio. A month later on 13 August 2017, The Miami Herald reported that Diosdado Cabello had initiated an assassination plot targeting Rubio, allegedly contacting Mexican nationals to discuss killing Rubio. Rubio, who is a critic of the Venezuelan government, has led an effort in the United States government to take action against officials of the Latin American government, often singling out Cabello. The Department of Homeland Security could not verify all of the details involved in the threat, though the plan was serious enough that multiple law enforcement agencies were contacted about the incident and Rubio's security detail had increased in size.[51]


Cabello has been sanctioned by several countries and is banned from entering neighboring Colombia. The Colombian government maintains a list of people banned from entering Colombia or subject to expulsion; as of January 2019, the list had 200 people with a "close relationship and support for the Nicolás Maduro regime".[52][53]


Canada sanctioned 40 Venezuelan officials, including Cabello, in September 2017.[54][55] The sanctions were for behaviors that undermined democracy after at least 125 people will killed in the 2017 Venezuelan protests and "in response to the government of Venezuela's deepening descent into dictatorship".[54] Canadians were banned from transactions with the 40 individuals, whose Canadian assets were frozen.[54] The sanctions noted a rupture of Venezuela's constitutional order.[56]

European Union[edit]

The European Union sanctioned Cabello and six other Venezuela officials on 18 January 2018, singling them out as being responsible for deteriorating democracy in the country.[57] The sanctioned individuals were prohibited from entering the nations of the European Union, and their assets were frozen.[58] Cabello, known as number two in Chavismo, had not been sanctioned by the U.S. when the European Union sanctioned him.[58]

United States[edit]

On 18 May 2018, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury placed sanctions in effect against Cabello, his wife, his brother and his "testaferro" Rafael Sarria. OFAC stated that Cabello and others used their power within the Bolivarian government "to personally profit from extortion, money laundering, and embezzlement", with Cabello allegedly directing drug trafficking activities with Vice President of Venezuela, Tareck El Aissami while dividing profits with President Nicolás Maduro. The Office also stated that Cabello would use public information to track wealth individuals who were potentially drug trafficking and steal their drugs and property in order to get rid of potential competition.[59]

As a result of the sanctions, reports estimate that approximately $800 million worth of assets were frozen by the United States government. Cabello denied the reports, stating that it would be foolish to have assets located in a place where they could be seized.[60]


On 28 March 2018, Cabello was sanctioned by Switzerland due to "human rights violations and the deterioration of the rule of law and democratic institutions", freezing their funds and banning them from entering Switzerland.[61][62]


The Mexican Senate froze the assets of officials of the Maduro administration, including Cabello, and prohibited them from entering Mexico on 20 April 2018.[63]


In March 2018, Panama sanctioned 55 public officials, including Cabello;[64] the officials were sanctioned by the Panamanian government for their alleged involvement with "money laundering, financing of terrorism and financing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction".[65]


  1. ^ a b c Vicepresidencia de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Diosdado Cabello Rondón Archived 26 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 19 April 2010
  2. ^ a b "Chavez eliminates autonomy of broadcasting commission," Informe21, 11 November 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 Maria Delgado, Antonio (26 January 2015). "Identifican a Diosdado Cabello como jefe del Cartel de los Soles". El Nuevo Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  6. ^ a b 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.
  7. ^ a b c "Demanda afirma que Diosdado Cabello recibió sobornos por $50 millones". El Nuevo Herald. 28 March 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d "The Frank Underwood of Venezuela". The Atlantic. 6 March 2014.
  9. ^ a b "NC COMMAND ATTACKS CRIMINAL TEAM: Diosdado Cabello-Freddy Bernal-Eliezer Otaiza". Ahora Vision. 29 March 2014. Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  10. ^ a b [1] [2]
  11. ^ a b "Department of State Offers Rewards for Information to Bring Venezuelan Drug Traffickers to Justice". state.gov. 26 March 2020.
  12. ^ "Top Venezuelan official announces "justice will go after" Capriles". EL PAIS.
  13. ^ "Internal affairs denies issuing passport to a Venezuelan". New Vision.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ a b Parraga, Mario Naranjo (23 March 2012). "Chavez's army ally rises to fore in Venezuela". REUTERS.
  15. ^ Villareal, Ryan (30 May 2012). "Hugo Chavez's Terminal Mystery Cancer And Venezuela's Looming Power Vacuum". International Business Times.
  16. ^ "Promociones de oficiales del Ejército venezolano graduados entre 1911–2001". Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  17. ^ Lares Martiz, Valentina (20 May 2015). "Diosdado, el poder detrás del poder en Venezuela". El Tiempo.
  18. ^ Núñez, Rogelio (2012). "Diosdado Cabello se perfila como el heredero del chavismo". Asociación Civil Control Ciudadano.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Gómez Velásquez, Berenice (2003). Así paga el Diablo...a quien bien le sirve. Link to digital version: <www.urru.org/papers/ASI_PAGA_EL_DIABLO_A_QUIEN_BIEN_LE_SIRVE.PDF>: Urru. p. 105.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 November 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)"Chavez Dismisses Vice President," Associated Press, 13 January 2002.
  22. ^ a b Alcalá, Luis Enrique (2012). LAS ÉLITES CULPOSAS: Memorias imprudentes (PDF). Venezuela: Editorial Libros Marcados, C. A. p. 133. ISBN 978-980-408-001-2.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ "Venezuela president names new cabinet", BBC News, 6 May 2002.
  25. ^ "Chávez cierra 34 emisoras de radio venezolanas críticas con su política". EL PAÍS (in Spanish). Ediciones El País. 2 August 2009. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  26. ^ "Radio". ipysvenezuela.org. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  27. ^ "El CNP solicita se devuelvan las concesiones a las 34 emisoras cerradas". www.cnpven.org. Archived from the original on 31 January 2019. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  28. ^ OEA (1 August 2009). "OEA - Organización de los Estados Americanos: Democracia para la paz, la seguridad y el desarrollo". www.oas.org (in Spanish). Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  29. ^ "Venezuela". sipconnect (in Spanish). Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  30. ^ a b "Venezuela National Assembly chief: Diosdado Cabello". BBC News. 5 January 2013.
  31. ^ "Venezuela National Assembly re-elects Chavez ally Cabello". BBC News. 5 January 2013.
  32. ^ "Según la constitución venezolana Diosdado Cabello debería asumir el mando y llamar a elecciones". Diario Uno (in Spanish). Associated Press. 5 March 2013. Archived from the original on 7 March 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  33. ^ Program site
  34. ^ Venezuelan officials suspected of turning the country into global cocaine hub (Wall Street Journal)
  35. ^ IACHR Expresses Alarm over Intimidation in Venezuela directed against People Who Come before the Inter-American Human Rights System (OAS press release)
  36. ^ La Vida de los Otros (El Nacional) Archived 21 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ Amnesty International report on TV program
  38. ^ "Diputada Marlenys Contreras: "La mujer venezolana es Socialista y Revolucionaria"". Asamblea Nacional. Archived from the original on 7 January 2013.
  39. ^ "Assembly Hears Report from Sixth Committee". United Nations News and Media. 6 December 2010. Archived from the original on 7 January 2013.
  40. ^ "Venezuelan socialist party leader Diosdado Cabello tests positive for COVID-19". Reuters. 9 July 2020. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  41. ^ a b Carroll, Rory (2013). Comandante : myth and reality in Hugo Chávez's Venezuela. Penguin Press: New York. pp. 122–123. ISBN 9781594204579.
  42. ^ [3]
  43. ^ "The Billion-dollar Fraud". The Economist. 10 August 2013.
  44. ^ "Allegations of Minister Diosdado Cabello's Corruption Expanding to Financial Sector". Wikileaks. 20 July 2009. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  45. ^ "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.
  46. ^ Antonio Maria Delgado (26 January 2015). "Identifican a Diosdado Cabello como jefe del Cartel de los Soles". El Nuevo Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  47. ^ "Jefe de seguridad de Cabello habría huido a EE.UU. para acusarle de narcotráfico, según ABC". NTN24. 26 January 2015. Archived from the original on 30 January 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  48. ^ Supuesta investigación señala que Diosdado Cabello sería jefe de cartel de narcotráfico
  49. ^ Diosdado Cabello y el “Cartel de los Soles”
  50. ^ "Cartel de los Soles: Las rutas del narco de Diosdado". Archived from the original on 19 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  51. ^ Mazzei, Patricia (13 August 2017). "Powerful Venezuelan lawmaker may have issued death order against Rubio". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  52. ^ "Maduro encabeza lista de 200 venezolanos que no pueden entrar al país" [Maduro tops list of 200 Venezuelans who can not enter the country]. El Tiempo (in Spanish). 30 January 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  53. ^ "Primera parte de lista de colaboradores de Maduro que no pueden ingresar a Colombia" [First part of list of Maduro collaborators who can not enter Colombia] (in Spanish). RCN Radio. 31 January 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  54. ^ a b c "Canada imposes sanctions on key Venezuelan officials". CBC Canada. Thomson Reuters. 22 September 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  55. ^ Zilio, Michelle (22 September 2017). "Canada sanctions 40 Venezuelans with links to political, economic crisis". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 3 April 2019. Also at Punto de Corte Archived 4 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine and El Nacional
  56. ^ "Venezuela sanctions". Government of Canada. 22 September 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
  57. ^ "Quiénes son los 7 funcionarios de Venezuela sancionados por la Unión Europea y de qué se les acusa". BBC Mundo (in Spanish). 22 January 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  58. ^ a b "EU imposes sanctions on 7 senior Venezuelan officials". Associated Press. 22 January 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  59. ^ "Treasury Targets Influential Former Venezuelan Official and His Corruption Network". Office of Foreign Assets Control. United States Department of the Treasury. 18 May 2018. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  60. ^ "Report: U.S. confiscated $800 million from top Venezuelan official". The Miami Herald. 12 June 2018. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  61. ^ "Swiss impose sanctions on seven senior Venezuelan officials". Reuters. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  62. ^ "Estos son los funcionarios chavistas que sancionó el gobierno de Suiza". El Nacional (in Spanish). 28 March 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  63. ^ "México rechaza elecciones en Venezuela y sanciona a siete funcionarios". Sumarium group (in Spanish). Retrieved 21 April 2018.[permanent dead link] Also at VPITV
  64. ^ "Los 55 funcionarios sancionados por Panamá por 'blanqueo de capitales'". El Nacional (in Spanish). 30 March 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2019. Also at Panama Economic and Finance Ministry Archived 5 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine
  65. ^ "Estos son los 55 "rojitos" que Panamá puso en la mira por fondos dudosos | El Cooperante". El Cooperante (in Spanish). 29 March 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
Political offices
Preceded by Vice President of Venezuela
13 January 2002 – 28 April 2002
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Venezuela

13 April 2002 – 14 April 2002
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Interior and Justice
May 2002 – January 2003
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of Miranda
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Fernando Soto Rojas
President of the National Assembly
Succeeded by