Senator Marco Rubio may be a target of a death order by a Venezuelan politician he’s been feuding with, according to U.S. intelligence.
A former Venezuelan military leader and current lawmaker of the Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello, reportedly gave the order to have Rubio killed. The senator has been protected by a security detail while in Washington and Miami.
At a July 19 Senate hearing, the same day he was first spotted with more security, Rubio repeated his line that Cabello — who has long been suspected by U.S. authorities of drug trafficking — is “the Pablo Escobar of Venezuela.” A week ago on Twitter, Cabello dubbed the senator “Narco Rubio.”
The death threat was outlined in a memo to several law enforcement agencies disseminated last month by the Department of Homeland Security. The memo, designated “law enforcement sensitive” but not classified, was obtained by the Miami Herald.
The memo revealed an “order to have Senator Rubio assassinated,” though it also warned that “no specific information regarding an assassination plot against Senator Rubio has been garnered thus far” and that the U.S. had not been able to verify the threat. That Cabello has been a vocal Rubio critic in Venezuelan media was also noted, a sign federal authorities are well aware of the political bluster complicating the situation.
According to the memo, Cabello might have gone as far as to contact “unspecified Mexican nationals” in connection with his plan to harm Rubio.
The U.S. believes Cabello controls all of Venezuela’s security forces. Rubio, a Republican, has President Donald Trump’s ear on U.S. policy toward Venezuela.
The Venezuelan Embassy in Washington declined to comment Saturday. Venezuela’s Ministry of Communication and Information said Sunday it could not respond to media queries until Monday. Messages sent to some of Cabello’s email addresses were not immediately returned.
Rubio declined comment through a spokeswoman. His office had previously sent reporters’ questions about the security detail to Capitol Police, which did not respond Saturday but has in the past also declined comment.
Assassinating Rubio would be close to a declaration of war by Venezuela. No one would believe President Nicolas Maduro if he said he had nothing to do with it. And given Cabello’s close ties to the military, they, too, could hardly deny foreknowledge.
Venezuela is not only suffering from a food crisis but is getting closer to defaulting on its massive debt. Trump may not have to invade or bomb for the country to disintegrate, but an attempt to kill a leading U.S. senator would raise the temperature to the boiling point and the possibility of the U.S. taking action would become real.