Opposition supporters use trees to build barricades on the street during a strike called to protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
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Large swaths of Venezuela's capital were shuttered and silent Thursday as opponents of President Nicolas Maduro called the first major national strike since a 2002 stoppage that failed to topple Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez.The 24-hour strike was meant as an expression of national disapproval of Maduro's plan to convene a constitutional assembly that would reshape the Venezuelan system to consolidate the ruling party's power over the few institutions that remain outside its control.Business groups estimate that 150,000 Venezuelan businesses have closed over the last 15 years.Government-run industries will remain open and Labor Minister Nestor Ovalles said the Maduro administration would punish private companies that close in sympathy with the strike.However, the Venezuelan Workers' Confederation, a labor coalition with ties to the opposition, said at least 12 of its 20 member organizations across the country had decided to join the strike.
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