Yesterday, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, blocking Venezuela’s embattled president, Nicolás Maduro, from accessing the profits that have bankrolled his administration until now.

This is part of a wider international effort to pressure Mr Maduro into stepping down, though Mexico, China, Russia, and others still support him.

Protests against deteriorating living conditions have shaken Venezuela since 2014. Three million have fled amid food and medicine shortages, chronic inflation and violent repression.

Last Wednesday, chief opposition figure Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president. The U.S. immediately supported his bid; over 20 nations followed suit, including the U.K., France, Germany and a dozen Latin American countries.

European states have given Mr Maduro until this weekend to call free, fair elections. U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton has not excluded the possibility of military intervention, declaring “all options are on the table”.

The U.S. has a history of intervention in Latin America, with mixed results. But the situation in Venezuela is increasingly critical, and Mr Guaidó apparently has international and domestic support. When does involvement become interventionism?

Credit for this article's header image goes to Getty.