The United States will not recognize Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly, ANC, the State Department said on Thursday, calling it "the illegitimate product of a flawed process."
The announcement comes as the 545-member assembly holds its first session on Friday. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has defended the newly-minted political body, created as a result of a Sunday vote where over 8 million people cast their ballots.
"The United States considers the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly the illegitimate product of a flawed process designed by the Maduro dictatorship to further its assault on democracy," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
She accused the process of being “rigged from the start” and "designed to fill the assembly with loyalists to President Maduro." She also claimed that the election lacked credible international observation.
“The United States will not recognize the National Constituent Assembly,” Nauert said, adding that the United States was evaluating all of its policy options to create a "change of conditions."
Forty countries, including Canada, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, have joined Washington in refusing to acknowledge the ANC, despite the fact that the right to call for an assembly is consecrated in the country's 1999 constitution.
Even before the election took place, the United States and its allies had constantly tried to intervene in the internal affairs of Venezuela.
On July 17, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Venezuela by stating, "If the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions."
At a meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States, OAS, in Washington, 13 countries read a declaration calling on the Venezuelan government to abandon the election.
But due to the lack of sufficient support, the sponsors of the latest declaration, including OAS General Secretary General Luis Almagro, as well as the United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, declined to put it to a vote.
Caracas has repeatedly accused the OAS and Almagro of promoting destabilization and foreign intervention in the South American country. Venezuela had began the process of leaving the organization after constant attacks.
Following Sunday’s vote, the U.S. government imposed sanctions on Maduro, freezing all his assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction and barring U.S. citizens from doing business with him.
Maduro said the sanctions reflected Trump's "desperation" and "hatred" for Venezuela's socialist government.
"The emperor of the North threatened Venezuela. They put out something they call a sanction. I do not recognize it,” Maduro said in a speech to the newly-elected assembly members on Wednesday. “Nothing, nor anyone, nor any sanction can stop this Constituent Assembly power.”