General Motors (GM) has made a decision to halt operations in Venezuela after one of its factories was seized by authorities, according to the Associated Press. GM says it vows to "take all legal actions to defend its rights". On Wednesday, three people died in nationwide protests against President Nicolas Maduro. The neglected factory hasn't produced a vehicle since 2015 but GM still has 79 dealers that employ 3,900 people in Venezuela, where for decades it was the market leader.
The consumer products company said in September 2014 that it was shutting down all operations in Venezuela, citing restrictions by the government, supply disruptions and economic uncertainty.
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.
Despite Venezuela's grim outlook, many auto makers have chose to stay put and avoid the drastic step of shutting down operations to avoid losing market share in case the economy dramatically improves or a more business-friendly government takes power.
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The company's departure is another sign of instability in Venezuela, where yesterday tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets holding signs that read "Maduro out" and "Down with dictatorship".
The seizure comes amid a deepening economic crisis in leftist-led Venezuela that has already roiled many USA companies. Venezuela is also one of the most unsafe countries in the world with a United Nations -estimated murder rate of 54 per 100,000 residents, the second highest after Honduras. It employs almost 2,700 people and has 79 dealers in the country, according to CNN. "Then the government accuses them of reducing production as part of an 'economic war.' The standoff ends either with the company closing shop or the government seizing its assets".
GM says its plant was seized Wednesday in disregard of its right to due process.
David Smilde, a Venezuela expert at the nonprofit Washington Office on Latin America, said that despite the timing of the GM takeover, he didn't see the move as an attempt to "tweak the U.S".
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Shares of General Motors Co. rose 59 cents to $34.38 in afternoon trading.
The State Department said Thursday it was reviewing details of the GM case but called on authorities to act swiftly and transparently to resolve the dispute.
Venezuela has been swept by protests since April 4, when the Supreme Court announced it had stripped Congress of its powers. The government last year abruptly postponed regional elections the opposition was heavily favoured to win and cut off a petition drive to force a referendum seeking Maduro's removal before elections late next year. It was unclear how many people remained in custody.
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