GM halts operations in Venezuela after factory is seized


General Motors (GM) has announced it will immediately halt all operations in Venezuela after the country's socialist government seized its plant in the country, a move GM described as an "illegal judicial seizure of its assets".

Witnesses and members of the opposition claim government supporters fired the fatal shot. But the Trump administration has recently stepped up criticism of Venezuela's government. GM said it was notified this week that a low-level court ordered the seizure of its plant, bank accounts and other assets in the country.

The US State Department said it was reviewing details of the GM case but called on Venezuelan authorities to act swiftly and transparently to resolve the dispute.

GM's Venezuelan operations have been a drag on earnings for several years. Some analysts saw it as part of a pattern of confrontation between the Maduro government and manufacturers as the economic situation deteriorates.

The Maduro government's seizure of USA -based General Motors' sole factory in Venezuela is likely to add to Tillerson's worries.

"In 2014 the government announced the "temporary" takeover of two plants belonging to USA cleaning products maker Clorox Co., which had left the country", Reuters reports.

A man shouts anti-government slogans during a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, April 20, 2017.

In a video call with Rascon, a Venezuelan doctor who had seen the carnage first hand exclaimed to him that "People are hungry but for democracy, for liberties, for rights!"

According to CNN Money, the Venezuelan government has unexpectedly seized General Motors' auto plant, causing the vehicle company to halt production within the country effective immediately. Why the court issued the ruling 16 years later, at the peak of anti-Maduro protests, was unclear.

But a spokesman added the automaker was "only producing based on orders that come in".

The escalation of Venezuela's political crisis has galvanized the often divided opposition in its efforts to force Maduro from power.

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His government seized General Motors' assembly plant in Venezuela on Wednesday amid the protests demanding a new presidential election and calling for an end to the economic chaos that has produced shortages of food and medicine as well as soaring inflation. "An unprecedented crisis in what used to be the envy of Latin America", he concluded.

Tens of thousands of protesters demanding elections and denouncing what they consider to be an increasingly dictatorial government were met by a curtain of tear gas and rubber bullets as they attempted to march to downtown Caracas on Wednesday.

"This government has done nothing but violate the human rights of Venezuelans", a MUD spokesperson said during a Thursday press conference, as quoted by El Nacional.

General Motors became the latest company to have a factory and other asset seized by the government of Venezuela, and according to commentators, the Detroit automaker faced an uphill battle for damages recovery. GM's factory in the industrial city of Valencia did not produce a single vehicle a year ago.

Venezuela has one of the world's highest homicide rates and the huge number of firearms circulating on the streets is a major concern in the event of unrest, as are the activities of armed motorcycle gangs that were once loyal to the government.

The National Socialist Party has ruled Venezuela for 17 years.

"It is part of a broader pattern in which big manufacturers reduce their activity to a trickle because they can not get the dollars to import the inputs they need to produce", he said.

The Venezuelan government had said that Kimberly-Clark Corp failed to consult with them before letting go of the workers.

"What do we want?" the marchers asked. The response, in a word, is heartening.

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