GM halts operations in Venezuela after factory is seized

The statement said a fair judicial system is critical to economic reforms that would restore growth, but it made no mention of any action the USA government might take.

DETROIT - General Motors became the latest corporation to have a factory or other asset seized by the government of Venezuela, and the Detroit automaker faces an uphill battle to recover any damages.

Venezuela's Information Ministry was not immediately available for comment to explain the seizure. Machado said the government was trying to blame her party for the killing of a young woman that the administration itself was responsible for. Several people have been killed in the protests.

President Nicolas Maduro has continued the tradition, while blaming the United States and its companies for Venezuela's economic and political problems. They were met Thursday by a curtain of tear gas and rubber bullets as they attempted to march to downtown Caracas.

Wilfredo Coronel, a 42-year-old priest, held up a rosary in his right hand.

"We are concerned that the government of Maduro is violating its own constitution and is not allowing the opposition to have their voices heard, nor allowing them to organize in ways that expresses the views of the Venezuelan people", Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters on Wednesday.

It comes as the South American nation experiences intense protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

The bloc urged Venezuelans "to come together to de-escalate the situation and find democratic solutions".

GM vowed in a statement to "take all legal actions", saying the seizure is illegal and would cause irreparable damage to the company, its 2,678 workers, its 79 dealers and to its suppliers.

The plant in the industrial city of Valencia was confiscated on Wednesday as anti-government protesters clashed with security forces and pro-government groups in a country battered by economic troubles, including food shortages and triple-digit inflation. It said that authorities had removed assets including cars from company facilities.

But while GM says the seizure will hurt its dealers, multiple employees at the plant tell NPR that the takeover was actually orchestrated by GM dealers, with the support of a judge and police officers.

GM reported charges of $720 million in 2015 and $419 million a year earlier related to currency devaluation and asset impairment in Venezuela.

Authorities say a third person has died overnight in the ongoing protests in Venezuela.

  • Patricia Jimenez