Senator Marco Rubio may have been targeted for assassination by one of Venezuela's most powerful lawmakers and long time secretive head of the country's security services. According to the Miami Herald, the US Department of Homeland Security disseminated a sensitive memo to federal agencies last month which identified Diosdado Cabello Rondon as behind the "order to have Senator Rubio assassinated," while also noting the intelligence to be unverified as “no specific information regarding an assassination plot against Senator Rubio has been garnered thus far."
Cabello Rondon is widely believed to be Venezuela's second most-powerful man and head of the country's military and security services. US media has referred to him as "the Frank Underwood of Venezuela" (from the TV series House of Cards) for his well-known history of corruption, suspicion of drug trafficking, and Machiavellian plotting against rivals and involvement in pro-Chavez military crackdowns. As a behind the scenes influential military leader he's kept both the late president Hugo Chavez and current socialist strongman Nicolas Maduro in power.
Diosdado Cabello Rondon, currently Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, also believed to be powerful leader of the country's security services. Photo Source: Wiki Commons.
Politico has also obtained the memo and reports the following contents of the intelligence report marked "law enforcement sensitive" (the memo's contents are in bold):
“In some unspecified manner, CABELLO RONDON’s problems involved U.S. Senator Marco Rubio,” said the memo, obtained by POLITICO, which is not releasing information that could endanger Rubio, his family or confidential law enforcement methods or sources.
The memo said that Cabello Rondon may even have discussed raising the money to kill Rubio or deal with the “problems” facing Venezuela’s ruling regime.
“CABELLO RONDON did indeed issue an order ... to have Senator Rubio assassinated,” the memo said. “Additionally, CABELLO RONDON was communicating with unspecified Mexican nationals in furtherance of the matter.”
Rubio has long been a fierce critic of Cabello with the two having recently engaged in a public war of words. During a July 19 Senate hearing Rubio called Cabello “the Pablo Escobar of Venezuela” as US authorities have an active drug investigation against Cabello and other Venezuelan leaders pending. Rubio is further spearheading efforts to increase sanctions on the socialist Latin American country, including the controversial proposal of an oil embargo, which other congress members warn could send the entirety of Venezuela into an economic tailspin and a worsened humanitarian catastrophe. But the Florida senator's influence over US-Venezuela relations is hugely significant as it's widely reported that he has President's Trump's ear regarding US policy toward the geopolitically important country.
Meanwhile, the war of words ratcheted up this summer when Cabello took to Twitter and called the Florida senator “Narco Rubio” in response to an attack by Rubio:
Narco Rubio, alias @marcorubio, lo peor de la política imperial, aparece como el defensor de los terroristas que atacaron Fuerte Paramacay.— Diosdado Cabello R (@dcabellor) August 6, 2017
It appears that both Senator Rubio and the Capitol police are taking the intelligence memo warning of a possible assassination plot seriously, especially after the June 14 unrelated shooting in Virginia which targeted Republican members of Congress at a baseball event. Multiple media reports have detailed a noticeably heightened security presence around Rubio, including a mixed Florida and Capitol police detail, as well as at times three additional plainclothes officers. According to the Miami Herald:
Capitol reporters first noticed police officers trailing Rubio almost a month ago. When he was interviewed last week by Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4, Rubio’s security included at least one Miami-Dade County Police officer. MDPD was one of the law-enforcement agencies asked to help protect Rubio.
Local media began noticing the increased security in late July, which was large enough to become the subject of some conjecture. With the Sunday publication of the assassination plot memo we now know why. Multiple media outlets have sought comment from both Rubio's staff and the Venezuelan Embassy, though no responses have been issued.
As it appears that Rubio now has reason to make his public fight against Venezuela's ruling socialist party a personal vendetta, we can expect the rhetoric to intensify even more in the coming week, especially following Trump's unexpected comment on Friday afternoon that the US has a "military option for Venezuela."