Diosdado Cabello Rondón (born 15 April 1963) 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 in 2019
|President of the Constituent Assembly|
|Assumed office |
19 June 2018
|Preceded by||Delcy Rodríguez|
|Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela|
|Assumed office |
11 December 2011
|President||Hugo Chávez |
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Acting President of Venezuela|
13 April 2002 – 14 April 2002
|Preceded by||Pedro Carmona (acting)|
|Succeeded by||Hugo Chávez|
|Vice President of Venezuela|
13 January 2002 – 28 April 2002
|Preceded by||Adina Bastidas|
|Succeeded by||José Vicente Rangel|
|6th President of the National Assembly|
5 January 2012 – 5 January 2016
|Preceded by||Fernando Soto Rojas|
|Succeeded by||Henry Ramos Allup|
|Governor of Miranda|
31 October 2004 – 29 November 2008
|Preceded by||Enrique Mendoza|
|Succeeded by||Henrique Capriles Radonski|
|Minister of Interior and Justice|
28 April 2002 – 10 January 2003
|Preceded by||Ramón Rodríguez Chacín|
|Succeeded by||Lucas Rincón Romero|
Diosdado Cabello Rondón
15 April 1963
El Furrial, Monagas, Venezuela
He played a key role in Hugo Chávez’s return to power following the 2002 coup d'état. 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. 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. In 2012, he was elected and sworn in as President of the National Assembly of Venezuela, the country’s parliament. He was elected President of the National Assembly each year until 2016. He is currently the President of the National Constituent Assembly.
Often described as the second most (if not the most) powerful man in Venezuela, Reuters notes that Cabello possesses significant "sway with the military and lawmakers plus close links to businessmen." Despite serving as the leader of Chavez' party, his overall reputation is that of a pragmatist rather than an ideologue.
Early life and educationEdit
Diosdado Cabello was born in El Furrial, in the state of Monagas. In 1987, he graduated second in his class from the Venezuelan Military Academy. His measured intelligence quotient (IQ) was ranked as the fifth-highest among all students in the institution's history. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
|Miranda State Governor Election, 2008 Results|
Source: CNE data
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. On 1 August 2009, 32 radio and 2 television stations were intervened, decision ordered by Cabello. The measure was received as an act of censorship by several non-governmental and international organizations.
Cabello was appointed president of the National Assembly in early 2012 and was re-elected to that post in January 2013.
Cabello has his own weekly program on Venezolana de Televisión, Con el Mazo Dando (Going at it with the Club). 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. 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.
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.
His wife, Marleny Contreras, was elected as a member of the National Assembly until she became minister of tourism in 2015. Cabello’s sister, Glenna, is a political scientist and was Counsellor of the Venezuelan Permanent Mission to the United Nations. His brother, José David, previously minister of infrastructure, is in charge of the nation’s taxes as head of SENIAT, Venezuela’s revenue service. Now José David is also minister of Industries. On 9 July 2020, Cabello tested positive for COVID-19, during the pandemic in Venezuela.
Cabello was nicknamed "the octopus" by Rory Carroll for having "tentacles everywhere." He is very influential in the Venezuelan government, using a network of patronage throughout the military, ministries and pro-government militias.
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." 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." 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.
Allegations of corruption involving Cabello includes being head of an international drug trafficking organization, accepting bribes from Derwick Associates for public works projects in Venezuela, using nepotism to reward friends and family members and directing colectivos while paying them with funds from Petróleos de Venezuela. In 2013, there were at least 17 formal corruption allegations lodged against Cabello in Venezuela's prosecutors office.
On 27 January 2015, reports accusing Cabello of drug trafficking emerged. 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.
Assassination plot targeting Marco RubioEdit
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 corrupt 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.
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".
Canada sanctioned 40 Venezuelan officials, including Cabello, in September 2017. 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". Canadians were banned from transactions with the 40 individuals, whose Canadian assets were frozen. The sanctions noted a rupture of Venezuela's constitutional order.
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. The sanctioned individuals were prohibited from entering the nations of the European Union, and their assets were frozen. Cabello, known as number two in Chavismo, had not been sanctioned by the U.S. when the European Union sanctioned him.
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.
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.
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.
The Mexican Senate froze the assets of officials of the Maduro administration, including Cabello, and prohibited them from entering Mexico on 20 April 2018.
In March 2018, Panama sanctioned 55 public officials, including Cabello; 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".
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- Program site
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Adina Bastidas Ramírez
| Vice President of Venezuela
13 January 2002 – 28 April 2002
José Vicente Rangel Vale
| President of Venezuela
13 April 2002 – 14 April 2002
Ramón Rodríguez Chacín
| Minister of Interior and Justice
May 2002 – January 2003
Lucas Rincón Romero
| Governor of Miranda
Henrique Capriles Radonski
Fernando Soto Rojas
| President of the National Assembly
Henry Ramos Allup