Sanctions remain necessary to keep pressure on Maduro, most experts agree. “I don’t see diplomacy working as long as Maduro is not afraid for his life,” said Russ Dallen, a Miami-based lawyer who closely monitors the Venezuelan oil industry.

Dallen noted that the sanctions regime against Maduro was in fact begun during the Obama administration. But he added that sanctions have only worked when they have enjoyed strong international backing, as in the case of South Africa where the end of apartheid rule only came after the U.S. joined a united international effort.