The 17-member regional bloc which aims to seek a peaceful end to Venezuela's political crisis condemned the "breakdown of democratic order" in Venezuela.

Brazil's Foreign Minister Aloysio Ferreira (C) next to Chilean counterpart Heraldo Munoz (L) along with Foreign Ministers and representatives from across the Americas, give a news conference in Lima, Peru, August 8, 2017.
Brazil's Foreign Minister Aloysio Ferreira (C) next to Chilean counterpart Heraldo Munoz (L) along with Foreign Ministers and representatives from across the Americas, give a news conference in Lima, Peru, August 8, 2017.

Peru called the government of Venezuela a "dictatorship" on Tuesday after hosting the first meeting of a new, 17-member regional bloc that aims to seek a peaceful end to the country's political crisis.

The meeting came just days after the inauguration of a government-backed Constituent Assembly was widely panned among much of the international community.

In a joint declaration released after a meeting in Peru's capital Lima, countries including Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile and Colombia collectively condemned the "breakdown of democratic order" in Venezuela.

They said they would not recognise any action taken by its "illegitimate" new Constituent Assembly.

"What we have in Venezuela is a dictatorship," Peruvian Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Luna told a press conference, flanked by his counterparts from the region.

Luna said that it was important to address the "unprecedented regional crisis" in Venezuela collectively, but said some member's of the new group may take individual actions to go further.

TRT World's Christine Pirovolakis reports.

Peru has been one of the most outspoken critics of Maduro under centrist Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczysnki, a former Wall Street banker whom Maduro has described as a lackey of the US.

Earlier on Tuesday, Kuczynski said Venezuela was "on its last leg economically."

Regional group reactions

The regional group, which plans to meet again, also condemned Venezuela's "systematic violation of human rights and fundamental liberties, violence, repression and political persecution, the existence of political prisoners and the lack of free elections."

Chile's foreign minister Heraldo Munoz told reporters that the group does not intend to meddle in Venezuela's sovereign affairs.

Colombia's Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, along with foreign ministers and representatives from across the Americas, gives a news conference after a meeting to discuss the Venezuelan crisis, in Lima, Peru, August 8, 2017. (Reuters)
Colombia's Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, along with foreign ministers and representatives from across the Americas, gives a news conference after a meeting to discuss the Venezuelan crisis, in Lima, Peru, August 8, 2017. (Reuters)

"What we want is to re-establish the broken democratic order," Munoz said, adding that "Chile does not accept military coups, auto-coups or military uprisings."

The meeting in Lima came as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA), which includes Venezuela's leftist allies in Latin America including Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and Cuba, expressed support for Maduro in a meeting in Caracas.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza (C), former Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca (centre, L) and Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez (centre, R) attend ALBA-TCP alliance meeting in Caracas, August 8, 2017. (Reuters)
Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza (C), former Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca (centre, L) and Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez (centre, R) attend ALBA-TCP alliance meeting in Caracas, August 8, 2017. (Reuters)

Earlier on Tuesday, the UN slammed Venezuela for the use of excessive force against anti-government protesters.

Maduro on Tuesday called for a "dialogue of respect" with neighbouring countries which have been critical of Maduro after the implementation of a government-backed Constituent Assembly.

Washington called the vote for a Constituent Assembly in late July a "sham" and several Latin American leaders have been critical and called for a referendum vote in Venezuela.

Powers of new Constituent Assembly

Meanwhile, the new Constituent Assembly assumed even more power in Venezuela by declaring itself as the superior body to all other governmental institutions, including the opposition-controlled congress.

That decree came Tuesday just hours after the assembly delegates took control of a legislative chamber and put up pictures of the late President Hugo Chavez, who installed Venezuela's socialist system.

Delcy Rodriguez, the head of the ruling socialist party and leader of the body, said the unanimously approved decree prohibits lawmakers in congress from taking any action that would interfere with laws passed by the newly installed Constituent Assembly.

Constituent Assembly delegate Carmen Melendez speaks from the podium during a session in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, August 8, 2017.  (AP)
Constituent Assembly delegate Carmen Melendez speaks from the podium during a session in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, August 8, 2017. (AP)

"We are not threatening anyone," said Aristobulo Isturiz, the Constituent Assembly's first vice president.

"We are looking for ways to coexist."

Leaders of congress, which previously voted not to recognise any of the new super-body's decrees, said lawmakers would try to meet in the gold-domed legislative palace Wednesday, but there were questions whether security officers guarding the building would let them in.

The opposition to Maduro also faced another fight on Wednesday before the Supreme Court, which scheduled a hearing on charges against a Caracas-area opposition mayor.

The judges convicted another mayor on Tuesday for failing to move against protesters during four months of political unrest.

Some 130 people have been killed in protest-related clashes in Venezuela over the past four months.

Source: AP