A view of Caracas, Venezuela, on Monday amid the ongoing...

A view of Caracas, Venezuela, on Monday amid the ongoing outage caused by the Maduro administration's massive power cut. Credit: AFP/Getty Images/Matias Delacroix

Six months after the leader of Venezuela's National Assembly declared himself president, dictator Nicolas Maduro remains in charge of his once oil-rich country.

The country is in a state of collapse.  Millions have fled, and those who remain face severe deprivations. from a lack of essential supplies to electrical blackouts.

Amid tough talk and economic sanctions against the regime, American military intervention appears highly unlikely. Trump administration officials, who purportedly back the legislative leader, Juan Guaidó, told The Miami Herald this week of a willingness to leave Maduro alone and not prosecute him if he departs Venezuela.

So far, U.S. measures have brought no power shift. 

More dramatically, President Donald Trump has re-imposed sanctions and proclaimed "maximum pressure" against Iran. To the dismay of European allies, he withdrew the United States from a 2015 multi-nation deal by which Tehran would ditch its nuclear-weapons efforts. Iran in turn says it has since increased its uranium enrichment, closer to weapons-grade levels.

Rather than make desired concessions, Iran has displayed more hostility. The nation's forces seized British tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, detained the crews and allegedly downed at least one U.S. surveillance drone.

Russia, still a key Iran ally, may or may not be helping the rogue regime in any practical way. In fact, Russian energy companies have competitively benefited from the U.S. sanction squeeze on Iranian oil.

Iran also claimed to have arrested 17 people as CIA "spies."

The United States also has been prodding China with tariffs, with the stated goal of gaining leverage in trade negotiations.

As reported Tuesday by The Washington Post, American businesses are absorbing the impact by taking less in profits, increasing their prices to customers and putting in new orders for goods from Vietnam and Mexico.

Amid the tit-for-tat tariff battle, exports of goods from Wisconsin were down 4 percent from January through April of 2019 versus the same period last year, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis reported.

On Tuesday, CNBC reported that U.S. officials will travel to China for talks between Friday and Aug. 1. Officials suggested that the timeline for an agreement, if any, would extend into next year's election campaign — which could pressure American negotiators to create some show of success.

Trump threatened and backed off border closures with Mexico if it didn't stop migrants at the southern border. As previously promised, the government there has taken steps to stem the crossings by Central American refugees. Migrant detentions usually decrease during the hottest months, but this time Mexico says it has involved thousands of its military officers in its effort. 

On Monday, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told reporters: “We have managed to apply our strategy." Given a 36 percent decline in migrants-per-day arrested at the border, he said Mexico won't agree to a plan that would force many migrants to stay there instead of seeking U.S. asylum.

This hardly ends the issue. The jury is still out on whether the recent threats of economic harm will foster solid results.

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