NEW YORK -- A Federal Judge in Manhattan has dismissed a libel lawsuit brought by Venezuela political leader Diosdado Cabello against the Wall Street Journal.
Cabello, a Venezuela political leader and former military leader, is one of the most powerful politicians in Venezuela. He has served as Vice President, President of the country's parliament as well as in a variety of other positions. Cabello participated with Hugo Chavez in the failed coup d'état of February 1992, leading four tanks to attack Miraflores, the Presidential Palace. He was jailed for two years before being released after a pardon from President Rafael Caldera.
"Cabello alleges that Dow Jones published a defamatory article in the Wall Street Journal entitled 'Venezuelan Officials Suspected of Turning Country into Global Cocaine Hub,'" wrote U.S. Federal District Court Judge Katherine B. Forrest, dismissing the suit. "For the reasons set forth below, Cabello has failed to adequately plead material falsity as to most challenged statements and actual malice as to all challenged statements."
"Plaintiff has failed to make out a prima facie case of libel and his second amended complaint is therefore DISMISSED. The Clerk of Court is directed to close the motion ... and terminate this action," concluded Forrest.WSJ: "US Probe Targets No. 2 Official Diosdado Cabello"
The Wall Street Journal "caused, and continues to cause, enormous damage to Mr. Cabello's reputation and good name, both personally and in his capacity as a key member of Venezuela's National Assembly," the suit filed in May 2016 alleged, adding that Cabello suffered "substantial economic damages" as a result of the article's publication.
The article, written by a former Daily Journal (predecessor to LAHT) reporter and Maria Moors Cabot Prize for Latin American Reporting award-winner Jose de Cordoba and his colleague Juan Forrero, was published by the Wall Street Journal on May 18, 2015, citing 12 sources including prosecutors involved in the investigation, detailed that a group of Venezuelan officials were being investigated for turning Venezuela into a center for international drug trafficking.
The article, subtitled "U.S. probe targets No. 2 official Diosdado Cabello, several others, on suspicion of drug trafficking and money laundering," cites a "Justice Department official" as saying that "extensive evidence" indicates that Cabello "is one of the heads, if not the head of the cartel" and that he "certainly is a main target," elsewhere claiming that Cabello is "the biggest target" of the investigation.
In addition, the article cited "people familiar with the case" as saying that Leamsy Salazar, who was head of Chavez and then Cabello's security detail, told U.S. authorities after defecting to the U.S.A. that he witnessed Cabello supervise the launch of a large shipment of cocaine from Venezuela.
Cabello also sued 22 media executives in Venezuela for publishing variations reporting the story.
The story was part of an attack by "North American imperialism" against Venezuela, Cabello claimed.
Instead, Cabello's lawsuit claimed that he was a "devout husband and father of four," a "distinguished Venezuelan politician," and "high-ranking member of the military." Targetting U.S. Senator Marco Rubio?
Earlier this week -- after journalists began noticing increased security personnel around U.S. Senator Marco Rubio over the last month -- The Miami Herald
reported that law enforcement had intelligence indicating that Cabello had allegedly initiated an assassination plot against Rubio.
Diosdado Cabello v Dow Jones - USDC SDNY - Opinion & Order Dismissing Complaint - 16 Aug 2017 by Latin American Herald Tribune on Scribd
Diosdado Cabello v Dow Jones - USDC SDNY - Originating Complaint - 5 May 2016 by Latin American Herald Tribune on Scribd