Clashes between Venezuelan security forces and demonstrators have killed three people during the latest opposition-led strike to protest against an election on Sunday critics say will mark the end of democracy in the OPEC nation, Reuters reported.
Many streets remained barricaded and deserted on Thursday, as the nationwide work stoppage entered its second day.
Plenty of rural areas and working-class urban neighborhoods were bustling, however, and the strike appeared less massively supported than a one-day shutdown last week. With Venezuela already brimming with shuttered stores and factories, amid a blistering four-year recession, the effectiveness of any strike can be hard to gauge.
Both of the latest stoppages were held to heap pressure on unpopular President Nicolas Maduro to scrap his plan for Sunday's vote for a Constituent Assembly, which will have power to rewrite the constitution and shut down the existing opposition-led legislature.
At least 106 people have died in anti-government unrest convulsing the South American country since April, when the opposition launched protests demanding free and fair elections to end nearly two decades of socialist rule.
"People are working out of necessity," said coffee seller Jose Vazquez, 46, in Caracas though he had fewer customers than usual and there was little traffic on the streets around him.
In Barinas, home state of former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, only about a third of businesses were closed according to a Reuters witness, as opposed to the opposition's formal estimate of 92 percent participation nationally.
"I am opposed to the government and I agree we must do everything we can to get out of this mess, but I depend on my work. If I don't work, my family does not eat," said Ramon Alvarez, a 45-year-old barber at his shop in Barinas.
Adversaries say the ruling Socialist Party wants to consolidate dictatorship with with Sunday's vote. There has been widespread international condemnation of the ballot, and the United States on Wednesday announced sanctions against 13 current and former officials for corruption, undermining democracy, and participating in repression.
Government officials and candidates for the Constituent Assembly were winding up campaigning on Thursday, with a rally in Caracas to be attended by Maduro.