What are Trump's options in Venezuela?

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro fist bumps a worker of the state-run oil company PDVSA during a visit to the Orinoco oil belt in Venezuela in 2013. Miraflores Presidential Office  AP  File

What are Trump's options in Venezuela?

The results showed almost 98% of voters said they were against the move to re-write the country's constitution.

Trump has previously promised America would do "whatever is necessary" to prevent the collapse of the Venezuelan state, and has met with prominent anti-socialist opposition leaders in the White House.

On the diplomatic front, the Venezuelan president said that the South American nation will condemn the interventionist threats by US President Donald Trump and the EU representative, Federica Mongherini, to global organizations such as the UN, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and Union of Southern Nations. Maduro's socialist supporters want the assembly to grant him more power over the few institutions still outside the control of his ruling party.

While that number can not be independently verified, it's roughly equivalent to the number of votes garnered by winning candidates in recent Venezuelan elections, an indication that Venezuelans would vote down the constitutional assembly if asked in an official referendum.

"Yesterday, the Venezuelan people again made clear that they stand for democracy, freedom and rule of law".

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called on the Defense Council of the Nation after the statement issued by the United States against the way the government is operating.

Venezuelans are expected to elect the members of ACN on July 30, the report said.

While that could bankrupt the Maduro administration and worsen already grave food shortages, hitting Venezuela's energy sector could also raise USA domestic gasoline prices, which would be unpopular with Americans.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada says "nobody can stop" Constituent Assembly election as clashes escalate. "Now more than ever" Venezuela will proceed with the Constituent Assembly, he said. The president claims that his plan to have a Constituent Assembly rewrite the constitution is the only available path to "peace" and economic recovery. Groups giving the government its support, he said, could be persuaded "that the best option is to seek a negotiated solution, because that would be better than abruptly losing control of the country".

But well-placed Venezuelan opposition sources tell me that cutting oil imports or suspending US exports of light oils to Venezuela - which the country uses to mix with its own heavy crudes - would have a devastating impact on the Venezuelan people, who are already suffering from widespread food and medicine shortages.

That constitutional rewrite plan however has earned rebukes from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and other Latin American nations, as well as Canada, the Organization of American States, the United Nations and the European Union. "We're in the streets to defend our rights, the constitution and demand that Maduro leave", he added.

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