CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – Stores and schools are closed and rush-hour traffic is noticeably lighter as many residents in Venezuela's capital have stayed home to express their opposition to President Nicolás Maduro.
The 12-hour work stoppage comes as the opposition steps up its campaign to force the embattled socialist from office after authorities canceled a recall referendum seeking his removal.
Senior officials have threatened to expropriate businesses that close. But major employers have insisted Friday's work stoppage is a grassroots protest and not a lockout aimed at sabotaging the already crippled economy.
The stoppage recalls opposition tactics used in 2002 ahead of a coup against then-President Hugo Chávez.
But while Chávez is still revered, his successor is widely unpopular. Polls show three out of four Venezuelans want Maduro out of office this year.
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