All Options On The Table As US Weighs Sanctions Against Venezuela

Update: Five Fast Numbers on Venezuela's July 16 Referendum

Update: Five Fast Numbers on Venezuela's July 16 Referendum

The government blames an economic "war" waged against it by the US.

A political crisis soon followed.

The opposition's plan did not call for street protests but dozens of opposition members nonetheless blocked streets in the capital, Caracas, and other cities.

But those manning the roadblocks said they had no plans to stop until Maduro fell, complicating the scenario for Wednesday.

"They also emphasized the urgent need for the regime to cease repression, to publish a comprehensive electoral calendar, open a humanitarian channel to meet the needs of the people of the country, completely restore the powers of the National Assembly and release all political prisoners, including a complete release for López himself", it added.

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People pass by a street blocked by security forces during the strike in Caracas. In a nonbinding referendum, 98 percent of voters rejected that plan - but Maduro is pushing forward anyway. "In the same way, they highlighted the importance of the plebiscite called for Sunday, July 16".

Opponents have called the strike a "final offensive".

In some places, however, such as the poor Catia and January 23rd neighborhoods of Caracas, streets and shops were still buzzing. Those nominations would not give the opposition a supreme court majority but are nearly certain to be rejected by the current court and the executive branch, making them a largely symbolic tactic to increase pressure on Maduro.

Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro chimed in Tuesday, saying that if the ANC went ahead it would be inappropriate, and he demanded that the assembly be canceled. "The fear that is on everyone's mind, but we are too afraid to speak out loud, is our fear that this will escalate into a bloodbath". Moreover, Trump's administration has reportedly not taken a position on whether Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro should be sent into exile.

Trump's statement on Tuesday said that "if the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions".

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Senior administration officials declined to detail those economic actions but say all options are on the table.

USA sanctions, he added, "would unleash enormous resentment among the Venezuelans" and would "never be well received by other countries in the region".

Venezuela is one of the largest foreign suppliers of oil to the US, accounting for almost 10 percent of total imports.

Venezuelan oil accounts for about 10 percent of USA oil imports, and Miguel Tinker Salas, an expert in Venezuela history at Pomona College in California, said US officials likely fear that any disruption in the oil market would increase gasoline prices in the U.S. One of the constitutional requirements to recall a president is that more people must vote to recall than voted to elect; the CNE shut down one such recall effort in 2016. "The Venezuelan people again made clear that they stand for democracy, freedom, and rule of law".

The American president called his Venezuelan counterpart a "bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator".

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