General Motors’ 70-year relationship with Venezuela abruptly ended on Thursday after Venezuelan officials seized its car plant.
“[GM] strongly rejects the arbitrary measures taken by the authorities and will vigorously take all legal actions, within and outside Venezuela, to defend its rights,” said GM officials in a statement.
It’s currently unclear why the government has taken over the General Motors Venezolana subsidiary, which has been operating there for 70 years and employs approximately 2,700. GM also has 79 car dealerships in the country.
However, political and economic turmoil in Venezuela has been slow-cooking for years, and according to a report in The Hill, “Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the U.S. and its companies for his nation’s woes in the past.”
According to GM, the “illegal judicial seizure of its assets” by Venezuelan officials included cars from company facilities and shows a “total disregard” of its legal rights.
GM also stated that it would make “separation payments” to Venezolana’s employees following the reported seizure.
The country is experiencing a rapidly shrinking economy as it goes into the third year of economic recession. Unemployment is likely to exceed 25 percent, and hyperinflation has tanked the value of Venezuela’s bolivar currency.
The day before the seizure took place, there were reports of at least three people killed in protests against Maduro’s socialist government and many thousands of demonstrators demanding new presidential elections and the release of jailed opposition politicians.
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