President Nicolas Maduro has continued the free-spending socialist "revolution" started by his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, nearly 20 years ago.
President Donald Trump said he's considering a military option in response to the political and economic crisis in Venezuela, raising the specter of a US intervention in Latin America that could spread turmoil in the region.
For almost two decades, USA presidents have served as something of a rhetorical punching bag for Venezuela's ruling socialists.
"We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary", Trump told reporters in New Jersey. Leader of the UK's Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn found himself blasted in the worldwide corporate-owned press for his refusal to denounce Maduro as a dictator and for a lukewarm comment about his opposition of all violence in Venezuela. "And it has served them both well", said lawyer Luis Alberto Rodriguez while sitting at a cafe, smoking a Cuban cigar, in one of Caracas' wealthier neighborhoods.
The right-wing opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) boycotted the initiative and refused to participate in the July 30 election, claiming it would only consolidate the power of the ruling socialist party.
The latest sanctions target eight Venezuelan politicians and security figures involved in creating the Constituent Assembly, the "all-powerful legislative body" loyal to Maduro that will rewrite the constitution, reports New York Magazine.
Hours after Trump's remarks Friday, the White House said Maduro requested a phone call with Trump, and the White House indicated that will not happen until there are changes. "We would take the White House".
Delegates to the all-powerful body rewriting the South American nation's constitution voted unanimously Saturday to hold elections in all 23 states October 10.
Venezuela has also been roiled by shortages of food and medicine, intensifying the unrest.
Meanwhile, Trump did not directly answer a question about whether the US troops would lead the potential operation.
Following Trump's assertion that military intervention in Venezuela was an option, Maduro's critics are caught between backing the idea of a foreign invasion of Venezuela or supporting a president they call a dictator. Meanwhile, its website remains hacked for a second straight day with a photo of a finger-pointing Trump under the banner "I Want You to Kill Your Brothers and Sisters". Venezuela has in turn accused America of "imperialist aggression".
"The awful threats of President Donald Trump are trying to drag Latin America and the Caribbean into a conflict that could permanently alter the stability, peace and security in our region", he said.
Before Trump's comments, the tour had been seen as preparing the way for coordinated action between Washington and regional powers against Venezuela.
The Trump administration has been putting pressure on the country to curb the flow of drugs into the U.S, and Colombia has stepping up its forced eradication program and increased seizures of cocaine.