Venezuela is already having a major meltdown, and a nationwide vote set for Sunday could send the country over the edge, a top commodities strategist told CNBC.
Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, said in a note that Venezuela, which has the largest oil reserves in the world, could become the first sovereign oil producer to "fully fail" as a state if President Nicolas Maduro moves forward with the vote to form a new legislative body named the National Constituent Assembly (ANC).
On Sunday, protesters clashed with security forces on Sunday as Venezuelans broadly boycotted an election for a constitutional super-body that unpopular leftist Maduro vowed would begin a "new era of combat" in the crisis-stricken nation.
Maduro is widely disliked for overseeing an economic collapse during four years in office. Yet he has pressed ahead with the vote to create the all-powerful assembly despite the threat of U.S. sanctions and months of opposition protests in which more than 115 people have been killed.
The ANC would supersede other legislative bodies — including the opposition-led National Assembly — and would be able to rewrite the country's constitution, cementing Maduro's power. The ANC would also be composed mostly of Maduro's supporters.
Those opposing the vote have taken to the streets in protest, and the United States and other nations have threatened to impose sanctions on Venezuela targeting its oil sector, and its state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., or PDVSA.
"The Trump administration has issued stark warnings to Maduro about the elections and is
reportedly giving serious consideration to targeting the country's oil sector by either
banning Venezuelan imports into the United States or prohibiting the use of dollars in PDVSA transactions," Croft said.