Diosdado Cabello continued his offensive against critical media today, announcing that he is suing Spain’s ABC and the Wall Street Journal for publishing stories linking him to major drug trafficking operations in the country.
In late January, ABC published a story in which it claims that Leamsy Salazar, a former bodyguard to both Cabello and Chavez, had defected to the United States and implicated Cabello as heading a major drug trafficking operation called the Cartel de los Soles. On May 18, the Wall Street Journal published an article citing anonymous U.S. law enforcement officials as saying that Cabello and other Venezuelan officials were under investigation for drug-related activities.
Cabello made the announcement on Televen’s Jose Vicente Hoy. Rangel began the show with a show of unquestioning support for the head of the National Assembly, calling the accusations against him “cowardly” and “disgusting”.
In his defence, Cabello repeated an allegation often made by Maduro and other PSUV officials that there is a global conspiracy against the Venezuelan state and its officials. Cabello blamed both international and foreign enemies for what he considers to be a campaign to smear his name:
There’s a matrix of opinion here from a cartel of media owners at the international scale that uses anonymous sources.
Cabello also said that would “go to the very end with this lawsuit”, and that he would not rest until his name was cleared.
Cabello: Cartel de los Soles Doesn’t Exist
When asked by Jose Vicente whether or not the Cartel de los Soles actually existed, Cabello said:
I’ve asked people who work in that. To my knowledge, they’ve never intercepted any shipments belong to theCartel de los Soles.
Cabello said that he found it suspicious that while rumours of the existence of the cartel have been around for nearly ten years, he’s just recently been alleged to be the leader of the organization.
Wall Street Journal Co-Author Sticks to Story
A co-author of the Wall Street Journal article accusing Cabello of being under investigation, Juan Forero, gave an interview to La Razon in which he discussed some details of the story for which Cabello is suing the publication.
When asked how long ago the investigation into Cabello began, Forero said that Cabello was only one of many suspected traffickers, and that:
This is an old investigation. We found out, after speaking with many sources, that this is something that began a long time ago. We’re not sure exactly when, but we’re talking about various investigations. It’s not just one, it’s many, and there’s essentially a few targets: Diosdado Cabello, Tareck El Aissami [governor of Aragua state], Nestor Reverol [head of the National Guard], and other officials we mentioned in the article.
Forero said that he began working on the article last year, shortly after Hugo Carvajal was arrested and subsequently released in Aruba under suspicion of being involved in drug trafficking. Forero said that working on the article was not easy, since it is common for extremely sensitive drug trafficking cases such as these for evidence and whole cases to be sealed by court orders.
When asked what he had to say about accusations that the fact that they use anonymous sources and can’t provide concrete evidence means the stories are simply part of an international campaign to discredit Cabello, Forero said:
These investigations are under seal, you know? In other words, I can’t call – even though we did do this – we can’t just call the person in charge at the district attorney’s office and ask them to give us information about this. That’s not how this works. These investigations by their very nature, due to the fact that they are secret since they deal with drug trafficking, mean that no one will talk to you about this using their real names. We did speak with people on the inside who know about this, with officials and official sources who know about this along with others who are aware of the investigations, and that’s what we explained in the article.
Forero was asked specifically whether or not he believed that his anonymous sources were real and telling the truth. Forero responded by saying:
Yes, and we’ve spoken with people who know about these cases and who know about these investigations. We wouldn’t have published this article if we didn’t believe that it was true. What has to be understood is that all the article says, basically, is that district attorneys in the United States are investigating Diosdado Cabello and other Venezuelan government and army officials. That’s true. We have have sources; in other words, that’s what’s happening. We have no doubt about it.
Interestingly, when asked whether or not he believed the Cartel de los Soles was a real organization, Forero said:
We didn’t talk about – and none of our sources talked about – the Cartel de los Soles. They [the sources] spoke about military officials involved in the drug trade. Important officials. About other cartels, of course, what we’ve been talking about is groups of corrupt officials who work with cartels (…) so, yes, there are other cartels, of course.
Finally, Forero said that he finds it “very difficult” to believe that the officials implicated in the article will ever be arrested, since they must know by now that the moment they step outside the borders of Venezuela they are likely to attract law enforcement attention. They might, as Forero put it, settle for living in a “country for a jail”.
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