Top Florida Republican Implicated In Trump’s Venezuela Oil Play

Sources in Venezuela report that PDVSA has entered into a service agreement with an American company, allegedly controlled by Harry Sargeant. While no formal announcement has been made, chavista source Aporrea informed on Thursday that PDVSA had penned 14 new deals to ramp up production by 1.025 MBD in 14 different fields, as previously announced by this site back in August. Aporrea added that [prominent Florida Republican] Harry Sargeant, described as an “influential businessman and friend of Donald Trump”, got a better deal: a 25-year service agreement with PDVSA, whereby production costs will be shared on a 50.1% – 49.9% basis. Chavista group “PLATAFORMA CIUDADANA EN DEFENSA DE LA CONSTITUCIÓN” is decrying Nicolas Maduro’s decision to grant PDVSA’s CEO Manuel Quevedo extraordinary powers to enter into such deals.

This site has seen some documents related to the service agreement referred above. The service agreement was initially signed by Manuel Quevedo -on behalf of PDVSA Petróleo S.A. (PPSA)- on 9 November, followed by an addendum on 15 November. An associated offtake deal was signed on 21 December by Jose Rojas Reyes, PPSA’s Commerce and Supply VP.

Ali Hasan Rahman, of Delaware-registered EREPLA Services LLC and EREPLA Trading LLC, is the countersignatory to service agreement, addendum, and offtake agreement. Hasan Rahman is referred elsewhere as an employee / associate of Sargeant’s Global Oil Management Group.

The offtake refers to crude production from Rosa Mediano and Tia Juana fields. EREPLA undertakes to increase production, and market output in cargoes between 240,000 and 1,000,000 barrels. The offtake agreement will have the same duration of the service agreement: 25 years, renewable for another 15 years.

Production costs will be offset from crude value at wellhead and subsequent marketing of such by EREPLA.

Any breach by PPSA to service agreement and offtake agreement terms, with respect to deliverables, obligations, corruption and bribes, subjects PPSA to further U.S. sanctions and OFAC’s licenses / licensees’ conditions, under addendum signed 15 November by Quevedo. None of the parties can renounce conditions imposed by U.S. sanctions and OFAC. Without OFAC’s express authorisation, and PPSA’s acceptance, EREPLA cannot cede / transfer any of its contractual obligations / rights.

The fact that such clauses were written into the contract shows how dire the situation at PDVSA is. While chavistas take such a clause as treason, reality is that none of the other 14 contractors mentioned would have submitted to the kind of scrutiny the U.S. Government and Treasury imposes on licensees doing business with sanctioned parties. Some of them in fact (Venezolana de Enfriadores C.A. – VENENCA below), are controlled by OFAC-designated kingpins like Samark Lopez. Can anyone imagine Lopez agreeing to be subject to U.S. sanctions and jurisdiction in his corrupt deals with Tareck el Aisami and PDVSA?

A 60-40 percent model was applied to all previous joint ventures between Chinese, Russian, Cuban, Brazilian, Spanish and American companies with PDVSA. This site is particularly keen on understanding: 1) how did Sargeant manage to get PPSA to surrender to OFAC’s close monitoring and observation; and 2) just how did he manage to get PDVSA to lower its participation in the service agreement to 50.1%. For that is a clear break from previous model, whereby PDVSA’s partners did all the heavy lifting and investment -as EREPLA agreed to- for a 40% share.

Requests for comment have been put to Sargeant, replies will be posted in this site if and when they arrive.

Another very interesting clause, establishes that buyer, i.e. EREPLA, undertakes to destine offtake crude to U.S., Europe and Asia, and China “but only by mutual agreement.” What this means is that U.S. Treasury is going to have detailed information, at the very least, on this bit of PDVSA’s oil exports. Even if EREPLA were to agree to PDVSA’s requests to send shipments to China, the U.S. government will know how much, when and where PDVSA gets paid for such deliveries.

It appears that systemic corruption in PDVSA just got that bit more difficult. Once full details of this new partnership are in the public domain, parties willing to invest in Venezuela will surely demand similar conditions. If U.S. Treasury starts monitoring operations of American businesses / businessmen in Venezuela that will bring more transparency. For now, that’s a good thing.

PDVSA's service agreement deals.

The US Pushes “Polyarchy”, A Type of Dictatorship, NOT DEMOCRACY

“When U.S. policy makers and transnational elites talk about democracy promotion, what they really mean is the promotion of polyarchy. This refers to a system in which a small group actually rules, and mass participation and decision-making are confined to choosing leaders in elections that are carefully managed by competing elites.”

Democracy or Polyarchy?

To favor democracy means to oppose U.S. foreign policy in the name of democracy. The issue is not whether democracy is desirable—it is—but whether the United States is fostering democratic relations when it claims to be promoting democracy.1

Historically, U.S. policy has been based on an outright suppression, often brutal, of democracy in Latin America and the Third World. Somoza, Trujillo, Pinochet, Papa and Baby Doc, the white minority regimes in Southern Africa, Mobutu, Suharto, Marcos, Chiang Kai-shek, Mubarak and Sadat, the House of Saud—all of these are potent symbols of the long history of U.S. and core-power promotion and defense of dictatorial and authoritarian arrangements throughout the Third World.

So what explains the turn in U.S. policy in the 1980s to an apparent support for democracy? Prior to the policy shift, mass movements for democratization had spread everywhere against these dictatorial and authoritarian arrangements, against local elite orders and against the global status quo. These movements sought an authentic and far-reaching democratization process. The prospect of the whole elite order crumbling—and with it, the larger global status quo—provoked fear among U.S. policy makers, their strategic thinkers and other global elites. Washington faced the challenges of restoring ideological hegemony and re-legitimizing U.S. foreign policy after Watergate, the Church Commission, the rise of a global human rights movement and the defeat in Indochina.

The 1979 overthrow of Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua was one of several key turning points for the shift to “democracy promotion,” because it showed U.S. strategists that the old forms of control were no longer viable in a rapidly changing global order. They concluded that it would be necessary to intervene before elite orders themselves were overthrown by mass democratization movements. The challenge became how to manage political change in order to preempt more fundamental social change. U.S. policy makers developed new strategies, modalities and instruments of political intervention under the banner of promoting democracy. The new approach emphasized the penetration of civil society itself in order to secure social control and limit change from therein. In a nutshell, U.S. policy makers and their organic intellectuals became “good Gramscians”; that is, they came to understand that a real site of power is civil society itself.

Alongside the more traditional state-to-state relations, U.S. intervention would now bolster forces in civil society allied with the United States and identified with global capitalism. Electoral intervention would also play a key role, since elections, when properly managed from above and from below, are major devices for achieving hegemonic order. Theoretically speaking, the shift in U.S. policy that began in the 1980s from promoting dictatorship to promoting what it calls “democracy” represented a transition, in Gramscian terms, from transnational coercive domination to transnational consensual domination—or at least, consensus-seeking forms of domination.

The 1976 Trilateral Commission report, which warned that democracy had to be tamed lest it be wielded by popular classes against the status quo, and the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution were followed in 1981 by the National Security Council’s Project Democracy, designed to organize the shift in foreign policy, and in 1983 by the creation of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its core groups. Another key turning point took place in the Philippines in 1985, when a mass insurrection threatened the Marcos dictatorship that had ruled with the support of the United States. The Reagan White House was in complete disarray for a few weeks—should it back Marcos as it had been doing or support some alternative? In the end, the nascent “democracy promotion” strategy won out, as Washington shifted support from Marcos to the elite opposition under the leadership of Corazón Aquino. The 1990 defeat of the Sandinistas through this new strategy of internal political and electoral intervention consolidated the strategic policy shift.

What is the united states actually promoting with this shift? Essentially contested concepts such as “democracy” and “freedom” are meaningless in and of themselves. There are competing and even antagonistic definitions of these concepts. They are always ideologically charged; whoever controls the definition controls the terms of the discourse and is able to set the framework in which people speak and even think. Far from mere semantics, the struggle over defining essentially contested concepts like democracy is a crucial dimension of power struggles among contending social forces.

When U.S. policy makers and transnational elites talk about democracy promotion, what they really mean is the promotion of polyarchy. This refers to a system in which a small group actually rules, and mass participation and decision-making are confined to choosing leaders in elections that are carefully managed by competing elites. In the age of globalization, polyarchy is generally a more reliable political system for containing and defusing mass pressure for popular social change. But it is not just a superior mechanism of stable domination; it is also a more propitious system for managing intra-elite conflict and competition, and for developing the political environment for globalized economic intercourse for which the old regimes were ill-suited.

This concept of polyarchy is an outgrowth of elitism theories that developed in the early 20th century to counter the classic definition of democracy as the power or rule (kratos) of the people (demos). It builds on earlier elitism theories that argued for an enlightened elite to rule on behalf of the ignorant and unpredictable masses. U.S. policy makers and their organic intellectuals in academia, in redefining democracy away from the power of the people and toward competition among elites, often cite (and simplify) Joseph Schumpeter’s classic 1942 study, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. Schumpeter argued for “another theory” of democracy as an institutional arrangement for elites to acquire power by means of a competitive struggle for the people’s vote. “Democracy,” he said, “means only that the people have the opportunity of accepting or refusing the men who are to rule them.”2

It is this conception that guides U.S. foreign policy under the banner of democracy promotion. Later, organic intellectuals refined this polyarchic conception within the mainstream of what came to be the democratization theory of the 1980s and the 1990s as an institutional definition in which democracy is simply limited to procedurally correct elections within a constitutional order. In this way, removed from the discourse and the agenda is the matter of who controls society’s material and cultural resources, how wealth and power are distributed locally and globally.

Central to democratization theory and to the U.S. policy of promoting polyarchy is an antinomy. First, its defenders separate the political system from the social order, and then they turn around and connect the two by claiming an affinity between democracy and free-market capitalism. In their landmark NED-funded Democracy in Developing Countries series, Diamond, Linz and Lipset are quite clear: “Democracy signifies a political system separate and apart from the economic and social system. Indeed, a distinctive aspect of our approach is to insist that the issue of so-called economic and social democracy be separated from the question of governmental structure.”3 Yet on the other hand, these self-same organic intellectuals and U.S. policy makers blatantly contradict themselves. They insist that polyarchy must go hand in hand with neoliberal global capitalism—hence the cliché “free-market democracy.” Numerous U.S. government pronouncements declare that promoting democracy and promoting neoliberalism are complementary, a singular process in U.S. foreign policy. In order to be democratic, one must identify with global capitalism. Normal society is capitalist society; any other vision is antidemocratic heresy.

Acknowledging the link between the socioeconomic system and the political system would bring the whole construct of polyarchy down like a house of cards. Under capitalist globalization of the past 30 years, the gap between the world’s wealthy minority and the poor majority has grown exponentially. Unprecedented worldwide concentrations of wealth and power have brought about a global socioeconomic dictatorship that is the antithesis of democracy. Ruling groups in the United States, for instance, have perfected the art of “the best elections money can buy”; of “one dollar, one vote”; of campaigns that are exercises not in political debate but in marketing, driven by those who have the resources to reach mass markets. The separation of the political and the socioeconomic is an illusion, since the concentration of economic resources leads to the concentration of political power. In a world of gated communities, of expanding police forces and prison systems, of armies and private security systems, of ultra-sophisticated surveillance systems—in short, in a global social apartheid—it becomes a crude ideological maneuver to claim that there is democracy simply because a country has elections and a constitution.

Beyond the international dictatorship of the G8 countries, other groups participate in the power structure of global capitalism, enjoying and defending the privileges the system brings. Each country has seen the rise of new transnationally oriented elites who have used control over local states to integrate their countries into the global economy. These local elites form an integral part of the chain of power in the global system. They control key levers that link the local and the national to the global, and it is precisely these new elite groups and their followers organized in political parties, business and civic organizations, the mass media and so on that are supported by U.S. political intervention programs conducted under the rubric of “promoting democracy.”

In this context, there are three groups of countries that have become targets of U.S. political intervention. The first is the U.S. “enemies list,” countries targeted for destabilization or “regime change.” In Latin America, this category has included Cuba, Venezuela under Chávez, Nicaragua under the Sandinistas and Haiti under Aristide. The criterion for regime change through “democracy promotion” is not whether democracy exists—by the strict standards of polyarchy, Venezuela is the most democratic country in the hemisphere—but Washington’s broader strategic concern with suppressing states that challenge the global capitalist order. These programs are called “bringing about a democratic transition.”

The second group consists of countries where popular classes and poor majorities threaten elite social orders. Countries in this group include Ecuador, with its powerful indigenous movement; Colombia, with its insurgency and popular movements; and El Salvador and Nicaragua, where the left remains influential. Programs aimed at these countries are called “supporting weak democracies.” The third group comprises countries where neoliberal elites are in power but are weak and need strengthening. Dominant elites here are not to be destabilized but regrouped and neoliberalized. These programs are called “strengthening existing democracies.”

In all three categories, U.S. polyarchy promotion programs relentlessly pursue two underlying objectives: first, to support those groups aligned with U.S. foreign policy and the transnational project of capitalist globalization; and second, to suppress popular groups advocating more thoroughgoing democratization or change in the socioeconomic system.

There are several tiers through which polyarchy promotion becomes operationalized. The first involves the highest levels of the U.S. state apparatus: the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA and certain other state branches. At this level the need to undertake political intervention in particular countries and regions is identified as one component of overall policy toward these countries and regions. In the second tier, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and several other branches of the State Department are allocated billions of dollars to be doled out, either directly or indirectly, to a series of ostensibly private U.S. organizations, as well as to the NED and its core groups, which are in reality closely tied to the policy-making establishment and aligned with U.S. foreign policy. The State Department exercises oversight authority over all “democracy enhancement” programs. The boards of directors of these U.S. governmental and quasigovernmental agencies include representatives of the highest levels of the U.S. foreign policy establishment and the transnational corporate world.

In the third tier, these U.S. agencies provide funding, guidance and political sponsorship to a host of organizations in the intervened country itself, including local political parties and coalitions, trade unions, business councils, media outlets, professional and civic associations, student and women’s groups, human rights groups and so on. These local groups brought into “democracy promotion” programs are held up in the public national spotlight as independent and nonpartisan, but in reality they become integral agents of the transnational agenda. This does not mean that these groups are mere dupes or have no autonomy. While this is occasionally the case, there is more often a transnational convergence of interests. Elites in Venezuela and their followers who have been receiving massive amounts of covert and overt U.S. funding and support, for instance, have an affinity of interests with the United States in overthrowing Chávez because those elites have been displaced from power. Indeed, it is vital that organizations and movements receiving U.S. support act autonomously; otherwise it defeats the whole purpose. U.S. political intervention supports select groups and amplifies their voice.

What Washington hopes to create through these programs are “agents of influence,” local leaders with a capacity for political and civic action, who can generate ideological conformity, promote the neoliberal outlook and advocate for policies that integrate the intervened country into global capitalism. These agents are further expected to compete with and eclipse more popular-oriented independent, progressive or radical groups and individuals who may have a distinct agenda for their country. Economic and political elites tied to the global capitalist order and the U.S. policy-making apparatus must come to power and must be defended in power. The goal is to ensure the preservation or reconstruction of the elite social order.

Polyarchy promotion is always only one component of overall U.S. foreign policy, part of broader strategies designed on a country-specific basis that may include the synchronizing of “democracy promotion” with diplomatic undertakings, military aggression, CIA propaganda and covert operations, and multilateral actions. Destabilization programs conducted as “democracy promotion” often involve coercive diplomacy and economic carrots and sticks, including sanctions and blackmail. Key here is the control that Washington is able to exercise over global financial resources and markets.

What moral authority does the United States have in claiming to promote democracy abroad? How would the U.S. government react if other countries undertook the types of intervention inside U.S. borders that Washington undertakes abroad? In the United States, it is a felony to accept foreign money for elections. What if the Venezuelan government, for example, sent millions of dollars and troops of advisers to the United States to organize a referendum to see if Bush should be recalled, as Washington did in Venezuela to recall Chávez? If activists in the United States were to receive millions of dollars from Cuba to oppose the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and if they met with the Cuban chargé d’affaires in Washington to plan such opposition, they would be branded as traitors, agents of a foreign government, or terrorists.4 We must question the asymmetry of global power relations, expose double standards and denounce the arrogance of power. Any talk of democracy must be based on a single, consistent set of principles.

William I. Robinson is professor of sociology, global and international studies and Latin American and Iberian studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara, and author, among other books, of Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, and Hegemony (Cambridge University Press).


1. This essay is based on the opening keynote speech at the conference “In the Name of Democracy: US Electoral Intervention in the Americas,” April 7, 2006, Yale University. For an extended exposition on the themes in this essay and corroborating documentation, see Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy: U.S. Intervention, Globalization, and Hegemony (Cambridge University Press, 1996), and for an update to that work, see Robinson, “Promoting Polyarchy in Latin America: The Oxymoron of ‘Market Democracy,’” in Eric Hershberg and Fred Rosen, eds., Latin America After Neoliberalism: Turning the Tide? (The New Press, 2006), and Gindin and Robinson, “The Battle for Global Civil Society: An Interview with William I. Robinson,” June 13, 2005, available at and at

2. Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (New York: Harper and Row, 1942), p. 285.

3. See, e.g., Larry Diamond, Juan J. Linz, and Seymour Martin Lipset, Democracy in Developing Countries: Latin America (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1989), p. xvi.

4. U.S. Public Law 94-283, Section 441-E makes foreign funding for U.S. electoral campaigns punishable as a felony. Ironically, this and related laws in the United States prohibiting foreign in U.S. elections were revamped and strengthened in 1963 in response to interference in U.S. domestic politics by the Somoza regime. See William I. Robinson, A Faustian Bargain: U.S. Intervention in the Nicaraguan Elections and American Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War Era (Boulder: Westview, 1992), pp. 55-56, and endnote 41, p. 204. In addition, the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations stipulates that foreign representatives or diplomats “have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that state,” so that U.S. internal political intervention in Cuba in recent years, including meetings in Cuba between the U.S. charge d’affaires and Cuban opposition leaders, are a violation not just of Cuban laws and reciprocally of U.S. laws, but of international law.

Italy Vetoed EU Attack Upon Venezuelan Govt

Italy vetoed EU recognition of Venezuelan opposition leader Guaido – M5S source to RT

Venezuela. Vasapollo: “Thanks to the Cinque Stelle Movement that has decided to challenge the imperialist logic”.Criticism of the Democratic Party and the League

There is a blow clearly in progress. It did not start on January 24 but a day earlier. The coup began on Twitter when Mr. Pence, vice president of a country responsible for the deaths of 30 million people from 1945 until today, decided that the legitimate President of a country should no longer be so “; These are the words of Professor Luciano Vasapollo, professor of the “Sapienza” of the University of Rome, delegate of the Rector for International Relations with Latin America, who spoke about the Venezuelan crisis. Vasapollo explained that the coup has no legal basis: all the most important constitutionalists in Venezuela have explained how the opposition’s attempt to justify the usurpation of the President’s function as a vacuum of power does not enjoy legal reference. “President Nicolás Maduro Moros swore in front of the supreme constitutional power on January 10, as established by the Constitution in cases where, like the current one, the Parliament is in a situation of rebellion.” The Italian professor recalled that also the art. 233 of the Constitution, which the extreme rightist puts coup to support this coup, speaks of the permanent impediment of the president, not the vacuum of power: “The constitution strictly defines 5 cases of permanent impediment: resignation of the president, death, sentence of the Court Supreme declaring his dismissal, declaration of the Supreme Court declaring his physical or mental incapacity, the declaration of abandonment of office “.

Vasapollo also spoke about the moments when he was an international observer of the presidential elections, which confirmed the second term of President Maduro, and recalled that “I could see how dozens of opposition candidates, Henri Falcon and Bertucci, were there, how there were public debates among all of them. In the elections, absolutely free and transparent, millions of Venezuelans participated who also challenged the terrorism of the extreme right to go to vote, giving a lesson in democracy and civilization to the world. I saw him as a direct witness “; On that occasion Maduro triumphed with 68% of the votes. The university professor also stressed that the part of the right that did not want to participate in the elections chose to keep burning people in the streets just because they were blacks or Chavistas. “Then there is the singular case of Democratic Action of Ramion Allup, more moderate, who had initially granted his adhesion and then withdrew it by order of the United States. “Anticipated elections requested by the opposition itself, to which the part of the coup opposition could not participate by imposition of Washington.”

During the interview with the microphones of “L’Antidiplomatico” Vasapollo, a great connoisseur of this reality, counterattacked against Europe talking about criminal behavior related to the ultimatum of Spain, France and Germany addressed to the Maduro government: it is ” Governments that no longer represent their people, think about Macron, who want to grant the legitimate government of Venezuela 8 days to hold elections. What brutality, what arrogance, what sadness, to such an extent has servility come to the United States? On the contrary, Italy has taken a more dignified and courageous position. “ Vasapollo, referring to the position of the government chaired by Giuseppe Conte that has been divided, wanted to emphasize that the position of the Lega di Salvini is consistent with those on the right who decided to attack the sovereignty of Venezuela to reach the “humanitarian war” that serves the United States to plunder the country’s resources. “On the contrary, the 5 Stelle Movement, and I want to mention in particular the position of Alessandro Di Battista and Manlio Di Stefano in particular, has decided to openly challenge the imperialist logic and I would like to congratulate them publicly.” According to Vasapollo, the Italian government has once again shown its duplicity with Salvini, taking sides with the worst of coups and who is fueling the “humanitarian” war to steal Venezuelan oil.

“It is clear that it will be a tough battle, but thanks to the 5 Stelle Movement, we must recognize it, it is nevertheless a result because we already know that with a Renzi government or a Gentiloni government there would be the usual figure of the doormat with Italy accompanying this ultimatum madness” . The usual role that a government only made by the Lega would have done “. Continuing with his analysis, the professor also recalled that “in all this they have weighed the impressive demonstrations in which our organizations have demonstrated in 6 cities, with hundreds and hundreds of people, their support for the legitimate president Maduro. The opening of a mediation together with Uruguay and Mexico is an intelligent position that serves to avoid a butchery for which, on the other hand, they work from right to right: Fratelli d’Italia, Pd, Lega and Forza Italia “.

When asked about future scenarios, he also reiterated that Moscow, with the statements of Foreign Minister Lavrov, was clear: with Russia that made it clear that it was ready to use all available means to respect international law regarding the events of Venezuela. “We need to be clear about what can happen in Venezuela. Another criminal war of the United States would not be a regional conflict with Colombia, Brazil and other countries that would bear the consequences on their skin. It would not be just to bring the Middle East to Latin America. “ According to Vasapollo, there is a risk of a world war with Russia, China, India and other countries that would oppose US unilateralism. To conclude his speech, he stressed that “despite the pressure of the bishops in Venezuela, the Pope, who does not recognize the coup d’état but asks for peace and dialogue, is making an effort that an atheist Marxist like me can only emphasize with admiration and respect. The ultimatum launched by some European Union countries to the government of Venezuela is in the opposite direction to the appeal launched by the Pope because “it means accelerating the spiral of violence that led to the destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Libya and Syria.”

Dario Caputo


Article 233: The President of the Republic shall become permanently unavailable to serve by reason of any of the following events: death; resignation; removal from office by decision of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice; permanent physical or mental disability certified by a medical board designated by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice with the approval of the National Assembly; abandonment of his position, duly declared by the National Assembly; and recall by popular vote.

When an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the President of the National Assembly shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic.

When the President of the Republic becomes permanently unavailable to serve during the first four years of this constitutional term of office, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the Executive Vice-President shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic.

In the cases describes above, the new President shall complete the current constitutional term of office. If the President becomes permanently unavailable to serve during the last two years of his constitutional term of office, the Executive Vice-President shall take over the Presidency of the Republic until such term is completed.