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Nicolás Maduro's plan to rewrite Venezuela's constitution has been widely condemned as an attempt to exclude the country's opposition from the legislative process, but options for his domestic and worldwide critics are limited, unpalatable and likely to cause turbulence on global oil markets while worsening conditions for an already suffering population.

When pressed by Julia on the abduction of the opposition leaders, Griffiths said this sort of thing "happens all too frequently" in democratic countries. Such a move would probably cause a fresh wave of refugees to neighbouring countries.

The sanctions freeze all of Maduro's assets subject to USA jurisdiction.

The U.S. sends light crude oil to Venezuela, which has heavy crude. Among those killed were two teens and a Venezuelan soldier.

In 2016, Venezuela derived $10.5 billion from its crude exports to the USA, or $28.7 million a day, according to Stuart Culverhouse, chief economist at Exotix Partners, a United Kingdom -based investment bank.

The Trump administration was quick to denounce the vote.

Any participant in Venezuela's "Constituent Assembly" could be subjected to sanctions by the USA government.

American officials had hinted initial USA sanctions could affect Venezuela's oil industry, but later they said the Trump administration was holding off due to possible complications, including some involving subsidiaries.

Investors and analysts are increasingly anxious about whether Venezuela will be able to make a total $725 million in debt payments over the coming month amid the country's political and humanitarian crisis.

A three-year economic recession has resulted in shortages of basic foods and medicines.

Another risk: US gas prices could rise. For example, the USA has had sanctions against Syria's President Bashar Assad since 2011. "Yet the economy of a rich nation is in shambles, because the Maduro government has given away your oil and much of your sovereignty to Cuba", said Rubio, a Florida Republican leading the push for sanctions.

Only recently Maduro had indicated he was hoping for a detente with the United States, with the oil company Citgo, which is owned by Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA donating US$500,000 to Trump's inauguration celebration in January.

"As a result of today's sanctions, all assets of Maduro subject to US jurisdiction are frozen, and USA persons are prohibited from dealing with him".

Before their arrest, the men had called for mass protests against President Maduro's decision to create a new Constituent Assembly to change the country's Constitution.

In 2014 alone, the foundation gave $2.3 million to organizations operating in Venezuela, ostensibly for things such as training in the use of social media and the monitoring of human rights. It's the third-largest supplier to the U.S. -sending 10 percent of its imports last year-and the top supplier to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, home of the largest cluster of refiners in the world. "Bring on more sanctions, Donald Trump".

"Once you deploy a sanction, there can be unintended consequences", says Eric Farnsworth, vice president at the Council of the Americas, a business association.

"They don't intimidate me".