Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his United Socialist Party of Venezuela are clinging to power ahead of a July 30 vote to elect an assembly to rewrite the country's constitution. But time is running out as opposition-led protests, which began in April, persist across the country and seem likely to grow more violent.
Meanwhile, the possibility of new U.S. sanctions against Venezuela's all-important oil sector threatens to thwart the Maduro administration's quest for constitutional revision and exacerbate unrest throughout the nation. Of course, regardless of whether those sanctions are implemented, the wave of protests that has swept across Venezuela will only build momentum. But if Washington puts heavier sanctions in place, Venezuela's oil production will plummet, dragging food imports and the country's stability down with it.
Opposition activists march along Francisco Fajardo Highway during an anti-government protest in Caracas. Since the unrest erupted on April 1, authorities say clashes between protesters and riot cops have left 102 people dead and hundreds more injured.