On Monday afternoon, rumors started building on a story that would headline the Spanish newspaper, ABC, on Tuesday: “Security Chief of Chavista number 2 flees to the US and acuses him of drug smuggling.” By Chavista number 2 —you may not agree— the reporter, ABC’s Washington correspondent Emili J. Blasco, meant the President of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello.
Venezuelan journo Luz Mely Reyes, who recently launched her news platform Efecto Cocuyo with Laura Weffer, started feeding Twitter with whatever background information she could gather on the scandal.
The story involves one Leamsy Salazar, a young Captain who spent twelve years beside President Chávez as his chief of security and personal assistant. After Chávez’s death, he was assigned to work under Diosdado Cabello.
According to Reyes, Salazar recently got married in Margarita and was thought to be spending his honey moon in Spain. But apparently he was contacted weeks ago by the US Department of State, and the trip was an excuse to leave Caracas and jump to Washington DC from Madrid. The last tip by Reyes is that the State Department wants him because Salazar witnessed a particular exchange of money in Cojedes.
Thanks to the time difference with Spain, however, the speculation was cut short. Emili J. Blasco’s story feeds several conspiracy theories regarding Cartel de los Soles, the alleged military drug ring that supposedly runs the country.
According to Blasco, Salazar would be the key witness to an investigation led by the New York DA’s office and the DEA, and his testimony would point to Diosdado Cabello as being the leader of the cartel. The piece ties several well known events, like the one with the truck stuffed with US$10 million found in Puerto Cabello, with other less known stories like the one with Huguito Chávez (Hugo the III, obviously), the son of Cuba’s Ambassador to Venezuela, and PDVSA planes stuffed with coke.
All the bad guys seem to appear in this one. Hugo Carvajal and the Aruba scandal, Aragua Governor Tareck el Aissami and his connections with Islamist radicals, Minister José David Cabello (brother of Diosdado) as the numbers guy of the cartel, and Ambassador to the UN and former PDVSA President Rafael Ramírez reprising his role as main money launderer.
Blasco claims that sources “with knowledge” of the investigation say that Leamsy Salazar will testify on having witnessed how Cabello imparted instructions to his associates at the cartel:
As an assistant always beside Cabello, Salazar witnessed situations and conversations that incriminate the President of the National Assembly. In concrete, he saw when the man gave direct orders to get under way several boats loaded with tons of cocaine, and also has provided evidence as to locations where mountains of Dollars in cash -from ilegal activities- are stored.
It is also expected that he will shed some light on Cuba’s involvement with the cartel, and other details of the operation such as the use of PDVSA planes to smuggle drugs.
Sadly, the piece delivers few hard facts. There is an important effort in tying together the story with the characters, but just a small taste of what Salazar is bringing to the table. Of course, it makes sense that the public doesn’t know his testimony before it is delivered to the DEA (or ever). After all, it is a drug smuggling case. But engorging the conspiracy theory narrative has been quite unproductive in the past.
What many fear, yours truly included, is that this will blow over like the testimony of other infamous witnesses of the likes of Isea, Aponte Aponte, and Antonini Wilson and his gang. The best case scenario is that this case is like the one of Carvajal, though – at least with him we were able to see a little shit sprinkling from the fan.
Below you will find the complete article in Spanish.