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The anxiety was triggered by an election called by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to choose members of a Constituent Assembly tasked with rewriting the constitution.

Among those listed in the new round of sanctions against the country are major officials in the socialist government who had previously avoided sanctions, such as Tibisay Lucena, the head of the nation's electoral commission who has supported the new constitutional assembly, and Tarek William Saab, the national ombudsman, whose son has become a regular participant in opposition protests.

"Get on the right side of things and let's work on an agreement", Maduro said Sunday, warning: "The Constituent Assembly is happening".

The opposition, which has now won majority backing after years in the doldrums during the rule of Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez, also held nationwide rallies in the afternoon in honor of protesters slain during the crisis.

A White House statement from President Donald Trump warned last week that "if the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions".

Some 100 people have died in the unrest, which has further hammered an imploding economy that is running short of food and medicine.

The blacklistings announced Wednesday are part of a steady buildup of pressure on Venezuelan officials and "a reminder that we're watching and the world is watching", the official said.

On Tuesday, the Venezuelan government said the United States is conspiring with Colombia and Mexico to overthrow its administration. The Maduro government characterizes the country's crisis as the result of an economic war led by the worldwide right-wing and as a fiction created by opposition-influenced media.

Global pressure has also increased with warnings of sanctions by US President Donald Trump and a call during the last Mercosur summit to restore institutional order. For this pressure to have any hope of succeeding, it needs the support of key worldwide leaders, who should redouble the pressure on the Venezuelan government-not only by pursuing all available multilateral diplomatic strategies, but also by adopting targeted sanctions against government officials linked to serious human rights abuses.

The opposition, which staged an unofficial referendum in which a third of the electorate rejected Maduro's plan, is fighting that effort, and has called a boycott of the vote.

Those moves came as a coalition of Venezuelan opposition groups organized a second national strike in a week.

"It could be the end of democracy in Venezuela", a senior Trump administration official said.

He said Mexico was using the same language as the USA despite tense relations with Washington over President Trump's proposed border wall.

That said, the firm recently postponed plans to partner with the Dominican Republic's Grupo M to begin exporting jeans to the United States where it does not yet have a presence.

"There is only one option and that is the Constituent Assembly", Maduro said. "Venezuela is meeting its global commitments and will continue to do so".

To unmask this unconventional war against Venezuela, the Bolivarian government activated diplomatic strategies concentrated on denouncing worldwide conspiracies of the national and foreign right to create chaos in the country and thus justify foreign intervention, according to the opposition strategy.


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