A woman crosses the street during a blockade to protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, on July 19, 2017. / AFP / RONALDO SCHEMIDT
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Foes of Venezuela's unpopular President Nicolas Maduro are calling for a national shutdown on Thursday to demand a presidential election and the abandonment of a new congress they fear would cement dictatorship.Bosses at state-run companies -- including oil company PDVSA which brings in 95 percent of Venezuela's export revenue -- ordered nearly 3 million public employees to ignore the strike.Anti-government protesters have been on the streets for nearly four months and Maduro faces widespread foreign pressure to abort the Constitutional Assembly which officials have said would replace the current opposition-led legislature.Venezuela's opposition is also demanding freedom for more than 400 jailed activists, autonomy for the legislature, and foreign humanitarian aid.
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