The failure of Venezuela’s government to bargain in good faith with leaders of the pro-democracy movement strengthens the case for imposing U.S. sanctions on President Nicolas Maduro’s cronies and the beneficiaries of his corrupt regime.

And while the government paid lip service to its supposed desire to ease the crisis, security forces stepped up political repression and Maduro’s bureaucrats imposed economic measures that offer fresh evidence of incompetent management.

Police have raided four makeshift camps set up by anti-government demonstrators and detained 243 students. At least a dozen were charged with a variety of felonies designed to cow the protest movement. The raids came one day after the government said it would start rationing water and electricity, adding to shortages of everything from toilet paper to flour.

Three months of protests against the declining standard of living have cost at least 42 lives. Even so, Maduro apparently has decided to tough it out rather than find a nonconfrontational way out of the crisis. A Maduro ally’s refusal to step down as head of the panel investigating the street clashes and political violence of the past few months was the last straw for pro-democracy forces.

Up to now, the Obama administration has made a good case for restraint in order to avoid giving the Maduro government a pretext to frame the issue as a fight between Venezuela and the U.S.

But as Sen. Marco Rubio pointed out at a recent Senate hearing, the die is already cast. Maduro’s government has repeatedly pronounced itself a foe of the United States. At the same time, Rubio pointed out, some of Maduro’s associates have gotten rich from political deals and have stashed their money in this country and used their profits to buy property in Miami, among other places. What is to be lost, at this point, by imposing sanctions on them?