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The latest US sanctions announced on Monday - bar state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (also known as PDVSA) from collecting proceeds from crude sales to usa refineries - appeared to be aimed at pressuring President Nicolas Maduro to step down and allow opposition leader Juan Guaido to call elections.

The President of Venezuela's opposition-dominated National Assembly Juan Guaido will announce new boards of directors for state oil company PDVSA and its US business, Citgo, UPI reports, citing a statement from the opposition leader.

PDVSA is Opec nation Venezuela's largest source of revenue and owns USA refining arm Citgo Petroleum, Venezuela's most important foreign asset. "Be on alert, Venezuela!"

"The United States is holding accountable those responsible for Venezuela's tragic decline, and will continue to use the full suite of its diplomatic and economic tools to support Interim President Juan Guaido, the National Assembly, and the Venezuelan people's efforts to restore their democracy", Mnuchin said.

They are also aimed at boosting Maduro's rival, opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom the administration recognized last week as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

China has said it opposes unilateral sanctions. Russian Federation still backs Maduro.

Inside Venezuela, Maduro holds the reins with the armed forces still loyal to him despite an opposition push to gain their support by proposing amnesty for anybody who supports Guaido's transitional government.

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The UN spokesman Rupert Colville said on Tuesday that 696 people were detained on 23 January alone.

Analysts at RBC Capital Markets say Mexico and Iraq are instead most likely to benefit in the race to replace Venezuela heavy crude that is imported for processing at refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

PDVSA responded to the sanctions by ordering customers with tankers waiting to load crude destined for the United States to prepay, according to sources.

"There will probably be problems". Venezuela's ambassador, Jorge Valero, said the Trump administration was preparing a "military invasion" and questioned whether Washington had the moral authority to "impose a diktat" on Caracas. "It is hard, impossible to give a different assessment".

The sanctions bar state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA from collecting proceeds from crude sales to USA refineries.

If Maduro doesn't comply with this demand, the European Union said it "will take further actions, including on the issue of recognition of the country's leadership in line with article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution".

PDVSA's US-based subsidiary Citgo will be able to continue operations, as long as its earnings are deposited into a blocked account in the United States.

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