By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- Diosdado Cabello, vice president of the PSUV ruling party of Venezuelan head of state Nicolas Maduro, has been unanimously appointed president of the nation's illegitimate National Constituent Assembly by the dubious legislature’s 500 delegates Tuesday.
“I will do whatever I have to do to defend the Constitution of the Republic, to place sovereignty paramount,” Cabello said during the swearing in ceremony. Later he swore an oath of loyalty to deceased President Hugo Chavez (the founder of the Bolivarian Revolution and the PSUV) as well as to Simon Bolivar, Liberator of Venezuela from the Spanish Empire in the 19th Century and the namesake of revolution that started in 1999, when Chavez first took over.
Cabello is one of the last original followers of Hugo Chavez still in power. Cabello was a lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel Chavez in the failed 1992 coup that ended with Chavez and Cabello in jail for two years, but which also launched Chavez’s political career, which saw him elected President in December 1998.
Cabello was sanctioned by the US as a specially designated national with the U.S. Treasury Department, together with his brother Jose David, also an official with the Maduro administration, his wife Marleny and "testaferro" business associate Rafael Sarria on May 18th.
“The Venezuelan people suffer under corrupt politicians who tighten their grip on power while lining their own pockets. We are imposing costs on figures like Diosdado Cabello who exploit their official positions to engage in narcotics trafficking, money laundering, embezzlement of state funds, and other corrupt activities,” said U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin. “This Administration is committed to holding those accountable who violate the trust of the Venezuelan people, and we will continue to block attempts to abuse the U.S. financial system.”
"In addition to money laundering and illegal mineral exports, Cabello is also directly involved in narcotics trafficking activities. Working with current Venezuelan Executive Vice President Tareck El Aissami (El Aissami), whom OFAC designated pursuant to the Kingpin Act on February 13, 2017, Cabello organizes drug shipments being moved from Venezuela through the Dominican Republic, and onwards to Europe. Cabello also directs Pedro Luis Martin Olivares, who was designated pursuant to the Kingpin Act on May 7, 2018, in illicit activities. In late 2016, Cabello and Martin worked together to move illicit money to Panama, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas. As of March 2017, Cabello seized drug loads from small-scale drug traffickers, and combined and exported them through a Venezuelan government-owned airport. Cabello, along with President Maduro and others, divided proceeds from these narcotics shipments. Also as of early 2017, Cabello demanded information from the Venezuelan government bureaucracy about wealthy individuals who had made large purchases, which may have helped him identify other drug traffickers, money launderers, and competitors, for the purposes of stealing their drugs and property, and eliminating the competition," the U.S. Treasury Department concluded in sanctioning Cabello.
Cabello is also under sanctions by several other countries, including the European Union.
Constituents were elected in a questioned Soviet/Cuban-style vote in July 2017 where non-government supporters did not vote and where there had been no vote from the public to have or empower an all-powerful Constituent Assembly. Venezuela's Constituent Assembly is not recognized by the U.S., the European Union and most other governments.