As Venezuela’s political and humanitarian crisis has escalated, the government of Nicolás Maduro made clear that it was prepared to shred what remained of the country’s constitutional order to stop a growing opposition movement. It stripped the opposition-controlled national assembly of its powers, imprisoned several top leaders and tried to slow a campaign to trigger a recall referendum on Maduro.

But the opposition drive continued, so last week the regime formally suspended the referendum process, postponed local and gubernatorial elections and banned eight senior opposition leaders from leaving the country. Maduro has staged a coup – and it ought to provoke a consequential reaction from the U.S. and Venezuela’s neighbors.

The recall referendum that the opposition was pursuing offered a democratic way out of what has become one of the worst political and humanitarian crises in Latin America’s modern history. An oil producer of 30 million people that was once South America’s richest country, Venezuela now suffers from severe shortages of food and medicine, one of the world’s highest murder rates and chronic power shortages, the result of the populist regime’s disastrous economic mismanagement.

Yet rather than seek humanitarian assistance, the regime denies there is a crisis and punishes health professionals, human rights defenders and ordinary Venezuelans who speak out about the shortages.

Under a regional treaty, the United States and Venezuela’s neighbors, such as Brazil and Colombia, have not just the authority but also the duty to isolate and punish the regime for its breach of constitutional order.

Until now, the Obama administration has offered lip service to a recall referendum while centering its strategy on promoting negotiations between the government and opposition. But the dialogue initiative is going nowhere.

The regime won’t change course unless it comes under far greater pressure. If the United States wishes to head off still greater turmoil in Venezuela, we should be coordinating tough international action.