Diosdado Cabello is suing El Nacional, Tal Cual, and LaPatilla.com for writing pieces claiming he is a drug smuggler. Of course, these news sites were not claiming such things, but simply repeating what is being said abroad about Cabello. The real reason behind Cabello’s lawsuit has a first and a last name, as well as a middle initial: Emili J. Blasco.
As some of you might remember, Cabello’s cover was apparently blown by the allegations of Leamsy Salazar, his former bodyguard, someone who was also Hugo Chávez’s former bodyguard. To say that Salazar and Chávez were close falls short – Salazar was, almost literally, Chávez’s inner circle.
A few months ago, Salazar fled Venezuela to the US, and joined the witness protection program. He is also talking to a grand jury investigating the allegations on Venezuelan drug smuggling.
We have heard little from Salazar since the story broke, but this week, Emili Blasco, the well-sourced Washington correspondent for Spanish journal ABC published a book called “Bumerán Chávez,” which includes extensive details on Leamsy’s allegations.
I just bought the book last night, and to say that it’s a whopper is the understatement of the month. Right off the bat, Blasco repeats some of Salazar’s claims about Hugo Chávez’s secret meetings with the FARC, in which Chávez himself planned the trade of drugs for weapons with the Colombian irregulars. He also includes claims on vote-tampering during Nicolás Maduro’s election, as well as the links between Maduro and Hezbollah. The newspaper’s claims have caused quite a stir in Caracas. Maduro’s government is incensed, and there is now a serious diplomatic rift with Madrid.
Of course, Blasco’s credibility hinges on Leamsy and on his other sources – I’m not through the book yet, so I can’t vouch for it one way or another. Having said that, Blasco has a reputation – at least in my book – for getting things right. I was convinced of this after reading his extensive reporting on Hugo Chávez’s illness during the years in which we had practically no information.
However, this little tidbit from the beginning got stuck in my head:
“Parts of [Hugo] Carvajal’s activites, as well as the close relationship between the FARC and the chavista high command, came to the surface when on March 1st 2008, the Colombian Army attacked the camp of FARC head honcho Raúl Reyes, taking his laptops with them. Emails and pictures proving the links between the FARC and the Venezuelan government were extensively documented in the computers. “I’m shitting in my pants,” said Maria Gabriela, Hugo Chávez’s favorite daughter. During the meetings [between Chávez and the FARC] in Barinas she had greeted her father’s guests and taken pictures with them. “I can assure you the Colombians saw those pictures. I don’t know why they haven’t made them public,” she told Salazar.”
If the book is right, and if Leamsy Salazar’s testimony holds up, we can rest assured more evidence – such as the pictures of Maria Gabriela with the FARC commanders – will surface. The claims of malfeasance are so engrossing that there is no way this house of cards can hold up once it starts to crumble. If the claims are bogus, well, then nothing will come of it.
Either way, it’s a fascinating read. It remains to be seen whether Venezuela’s mainstream media self censors this information in response to Cabello’s moves, or whether they do the right thing and publish it.