The U.S. slammed the elections in Venezuela on whether to grant the countrys ruling party unlimited power Sunday, vowing strong and swift actions against the architects of authoritarianism.
The State Department released a statement in response to what it called a flawed election of a constitutional super-body under President Nicolas Maduro.
“The United States stands by the people of Venezuela, and their constitutional representatives, in their quest to restore their country to a full and prosperous democracy,” the State Department said in a statement, according to Reuters.
“We will continue to take strong and swift actions against the architects of authoritarianism in Venezuela, including those who participate in the National Constituent Assembly as a result of todays flawed election.
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley also spoke out against the elections, calling them a sham.
Venezuelan electoral authorities said on Sunday that more than 8 million people voted to create a constitutional assembly endowing Maduro’s ruling socialist party with virtually unlimited powers.
Members of the opposition said they believed between 2 million and 3 million people voted and one well-respected independent analysis put the number at 3.6 million.
An exit poll based on surveys from 110 voting centers by New York investment bank Torino Capital and a Venezuela public opinion company estimated 3.6 million people voted, or about 18.5 percent of registered voters.
“The results thus suggest that the government maintains an important loyal core of supporters that it can mobilize in both electoral and non-electoral scenarios,” the report concluded.
The same exit poll also noted that Venezuela has an estimated 2.6 million government employees, “suggesting that a large fraction of the votes could have not been voluntary.”
In addition to the U.S., Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, Britain said they would not recognize Sunday’s vote.
Maduro called the vote for a constitutional assembly in May after a month of protests against his government, which has overseen Venezuela’s descent into a devastating crisis during its four years in power. Due to plunging oil prices and widespread corruption and mismanagement, Venezuela’s inflation and homicide rates are among the world’s highest, and widespread shortages of food and medicine have citizens dying of preventable illnesses and rooting through trash to feed themselves.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.