Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly Holds Its First Meeting in Caracas

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Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly Holds Its First Meeting in Caracas

It appeared that the building sustained no damage.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro held an election on Sunday to appoint members of the newly-created National Constituent Assembly, which was denounced by his critics as unconstitutional.

The U.S. State Department said on Thursday that the United States will not recognize Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly (ANC) tasked to amend the Constitution.

But the new assembly's leader, former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, warned the opposition that their reckoning is coming, blaming it for deaths that accompanied the protests and for waging "economic war" against the people.

"The only way they'll get us out of here is by killing us", declared Freddy Guevara, the National Assembly's first vice president.

"We thank the people of Venezuela and the global community for their concern and solidarity". The request, filed to a lower court in an apparent attempt to circumvent the government-stacked Supreme Court, was nearly certain to be denied.

The electoral authority itself - criticized as a Maduro mouthpiece - denied the vote-tampering allegation as "an irresponsible contention based on estimates with no grounding in the data".

"He is contradicting his own statements (on previous processes), moreover, his company provides services which do not replace in any way Venezuela's electoral power", said Rodriguez.

Smartmatic has provided the technological platform for voting and services for Venezuelan elections since 2004. He did not, however, say whether vote tampering altered the outcome of Sunday's balloting. Mugica claimed to have identified that the "difference between the announced figure and the number produced by the system is at least 1 million voters".

However, Maduro accuses his opponents of using violence and argues that the constitutional assembly is the best way to restore peace. He also repeated the government's stance that eight million people voted, adding that the turnout would have been 10 million if others had not been blocked by protesters.

The opposition, which boycotted the vote, said turnout was less than 4 million, and that account was reinforced by journalists' reports that dozens of polling places around Caracas were nearly deserted Sunday.

The body's 545 delegates were expected to be installed at the legislative palace in a room just yards (meters) from the chamber where the opposition-controlled National Assembly meets.

Some two weeks before, on the other hand, when the country came together to vote in a a symbolic referendum organized by the opposition to reject Maduro's attempts at re-writing the country's constitution, the bishops strongly supported the referendum, even though, legally speaking, it had no standing.

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