As Marco Rubio helped ratchet up U.S. pressure on Venezuela, a top politician believed to control that country’s security forces began actively discussing a plot to kill the Florida senator last month and may have wanted to use Mexican nationals for the assassination plot, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo sent to state and local law enforcement.
The alleged threats from the Venezuelan politician, Diosdado Cabello Rondon, were not specific and weren’t corroborated by enough sources to merit a detailed explanation, according to the memo, but the situation was worrying enough to prompt Capitol Police and law enforcement in Miami-Dade County to provide security for Rubio.
The Miami Herald first reported details of the memo Sunday.
Despite the potential threat, Rubio has continued to speak out against Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro, has pushed for more sanctions and even engaged in a brief Twitter exchange with Cabello Rondon last week when the senator accused the Venezuelan official of involvement in drug trafficking, which Cabello Rondon has denied.
“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 (NFI) to have Senator Rubio assassinated,” a source told U.S. officials, the memo said. “Additionally, CABELLO RONDON was communicating with unspecified Mexican nationals in furtherance of the matter.”
As Venezuela descended into chaos and a fraud-marred election that enabled Maduro to seize power, the United States labeled him a dictator and slapped individual sanctions on him and other members of his regime.
After a military uprising against Maduro was quashed, Rubio on Aug. 6 called out Cabello Rondon on Twitter and said the incident “shows who’s in charge of security forces in #Venezuela.”
Cabello Rondon replied in Spanish by accusing Rubio of imperialism and as “the defender of the terrorists who attacked strong Paramacay.” He also called Rubio “Narco Rubio” – an ironic nickname considering that Cabello Rondon has long been suspected by the United States of involvement in drug trafficking, which he has denied.
“Diosdado ‘Pablo Escobar’ Cabello is unusually nervous and frantic this morning,” Rubio replied at the time.