The Wall Street Journal’s José de Córdoba sat down with Jorge Ramos to discuss his recent report on a U.S. investigation into Venezuela’s No. 2 in command, Diosdado Cabello.
According to Córdoba’s piece published on Monday, Cabello –President of Venezuela’s National Assembly– has allegedly been linked to cocaine trafficking and money laundering, alongside other senior officials in the South American country. The report comes at the heels of accusations of human rights violations, some of which were recently discovered by Fusion.
“There have been a lot of indications that high ranking officials in the Venezuelan government have been involved with drugs for a long time,” Córdoba told Ramos.
Córdoba said that U.S. prosecutors in New York and Miami are building cases using testimony from a number of witnesses, including Cabello’s former head of security, who are cooperating with U.S. authorities.
Cabello has denied any wrongdoing and has asked his accusers to come forward with evidence. After a couple days of radio silence, Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, finally spoke out in Cabello’s defense during his weekly televised program, In Contact with Maduro, late Tuesday night.
“Whoever messes with Diosdado, messes with me,” Maduro said to a cheering audience. “We’re going to defend Diosdado like we’ve defended our country.”
Cabello recently found himself at the center of another controversy last month when 22 Venezuelan journalists were banned from leaving the country. Cabello admitted to soliciting the court-ordered travel bans and suing media outlets for defamation after stories linking him to drug cartels were published.
Ramos asked Córdoba why a rich and powerful man like Cabello would involve himself in drug trafficking.
“Drug trafficking has become just one more source of illicit income for what appears to me to be an enormously corrupt ruling class,” Córdoba said.
The Venezuelan government has yet to contact the WSJ directly regarding the controversial allegations.