U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, issued the following statement in reaction to Sunday's controversial vote in Venezuela to force the creation of a constituent assembly.

"Nicolas Maduro's decision to move forward with a sham election to create a constituent assembly and shred his country's constitution offers yet another disturbing example of how dangerously unfit this man is to lead a country. Despite millions of Venezuelans peacefully expressing their opposition to Maduro's continued consolidation of power through a historic referendum, he still chose to defy his citizens and ignore the growing calls from the international community with this latest scheme to bulldoze over the remnants of democracy in Venezuela.

"As he did with the Judiciary, yesterday's sham election by this frantic dictator certifies the legislature ceases to function as an independent branch of the Venezuelan government. And now, having egregiously appropriated full control over the composition and autonomy of every branch of the state, Venezuelans are powerless and in desperate need for the international community to step in on their behalf.

"With a growing list of nations who refuse to recognize the objectivity and credibility of the results of this bogus election, the international community must also stand with and support Venezuelans clamoring for democracy and leaders that believe in and uphold the laws. This calamity not only calls for the United States to continue seeking additional policy changes that apply strategic pressure over Maduro and his cronies without further hurting their victims, it calls for collective and decisive action. We must unite to work to reestablish the rule of law in Venezuela, particularly through the OAS, and continue takings steps that hold Maduro and his cronies accountable for their repression of human rights, nonstop abuse of power over their own citizens, and now full out war on democratic values."