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Cabello accumulates power in Venezuela while Maduro weakens, warns Rubio
By Antonio Maria Delgado
August 16, 2019
El Nuevo Herald
 
The leader Nicolás Maduro is losing power in Venezuela and today important members of his regime are conspiring to overthrow him after concluding that his tenure in power is already a problem, said Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
 
"He is surrounded by people who want to remove him to put one of them in power," said Rubio, one of the most influential voices in Washington on Venezuela policy.
 
 “[Those people] are not interested in democracy, but on maintaining their privileges. [And a regime change] can happen at any time. In the last two years there have been more than five or six attempts to change the regime and none were seen coming, ” Rubio added.
 

 
But in the midst of volatility an undesirable event could occur: that Maduro be replaced by his number two, Diosdado Cabello, who was sanctioned by the Treasury Department for a wide range of crimes, such as corruption, drug trafficking and smuggling of minerals.
 
And it is possible that this process has already begun, Rubio warned.
 
Cabello has already been strengthening his position discreetly as Maduro's situation weakens, which increases the boiling situation in the oil country.
 
"I don't think there is any doubt that Diosdado Cabello has always wanted to be president of Venezuela," Rubio said in a telephone interview. But what "we have seen in recent months is how the most important positions of the regime are now occupied by people loyal to him, including members of his family and his inner circle."
 
Frequently described as one of the richest and most powerful men in Venezuela, Cabello has long been controlling various sectors of the country, such as the tax service, and a year ago, the presidency of the questioned National Constituent Assembly (ANC).
 
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“[Cabello] knows that he would never win a free election in Venezuela. But he is looking to take over the system to put himself or put someone he controls at the head of that government, where the real power would be, ” Rubio explained.
 
The government of President Donald Trump, which has turned the restoration of democracy into one of his priorities in Latin America, has sent multiple messages implying that he is willing to work with some members of Chavismo, no matter how badly they are viewed, as long as they turn their backs on Maduro.
 
However, Rubio said that this is not a clean slate, emphasizing that not all regime leaders are redeemable.
 
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