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Venezuela was paralyzed by a 12-hour general strike, a peaceful protest against the economic austerity measures of President Carlos Andres Perez.

The walkout Thursday, called by the Venezuelan General Workers Confederation, an umbrella organization under which all labor unions in the nation are grouped, began at 6 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m.The peaceful strike idled public transportation, industry, commerce and almost every segment of the economy, with the exception of essential services such as medical care and utilities.

The powerful workers confederation called the strike to protest austerity measures which Perez said are "destined to halt inflation and strenghthen the economy."

The strikers are also rebelling against alleged hoarding and speculation by businessmen.