A saleswoman counts cash at a bakery in Caracas, Venezuela. Picture: REUTERS
A saleswoman counts cash at a bakery in Caracas, Venezuela. Picture: REUTERS

Caracas — Venezuela’s streets were quieter than normal on Tuesday but many businesses remained open despite an opposition call for a national strike to protest against economic measures announced by socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

The nation cut five zeros from prices on Monday in response to hyperinflation as part of a broad set of measures meant to tackle an economic crisis, including pegging the country’s currency to a state-backed cryptocurrency.

Opposition critics slammed the plan as inadequate in the face of inflation that topped 82,000% in July and called for a one-day halt of commercial activities across the country.

"Don’t go to work, you have the right to protest, because what’s at stake is your life, your future, and your country. Rebel!" opposition party Popular Will wrote via its Twitter account.

Maduro declared Monday a national holiday for banks and consumers to get accustomed to the new pricing scheme.

The intervention means items that cost 1,000,000 bolivars last week were re-marked with price tags of 10 bolivars.

Fedecamaras, the country’s main business group, slammed the proposal as "incoherent", noting that the plan’s 3,000% minimum wage increase would make it impossible for businesses to keep their doors open.

But the group did not take a position on the opposition-led strike, saying members should choose on their own.

The governing Socialist Party announced a march on Tuesday morning to support Maduro’s economic measures that was scheduled to end with a rally at the presidential palace.

The collapse of the country’s economy has fuelled hunger and disease, spurring an exodus of migrants to nearby countries. In recent days, Ecuador and Peru tightened visa requirements for Venezuelans.

Reuters