World Media

GM ceases Venezuelan operations after asset seizure

GM ceases Venezuelan operations after asset seizure

General Motors Co. became the latest multinational company to exit what used to be South America's most lucrative consumer market, following the seizure of its plant linked to a court case.

The seizure comes at a time of great turmoil for the embattled government of President Nicolás Maduro.

"They came here with all the files and documents saying that they have been fighting this since 2000, saying that General Motors has not been fulfilling its contracts", Perdomo said. The company says it will make "separation payments" to workers affected by the Valencia plant's closure and plans to pursue legal action against the Venezuelan government. Under former President Hugo Chavez, for instance, the government seized Spanish-owned banks and American rice mill.

"Like most carmakers in the oil-producing nation, it has seen production grind to a halt as the cash-strapped government chokes off its access to dollars needed to import parts and repatriate profits", the wire service writes.

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Venezolana was established in 1948 and employs about 2,700 workers and has 79 dealers in the country, USA TODAY reported. The economy contracted by an estimated 18 percent previous year, as the country faced one of the world's highest inflation rates and suffered widespread shortages of food and medicine.

Hyperinflation has wiped out the value of its currency, the bolivar.

The three deaths bring to eight the number of people killed since protests began three weeks ago over the Supreme Court's decision to strip the opposition-controlled Congress of its last remaining powers, a move that was later reversed amid a storm of global criticism. Those participating in the so-called "mother of all protests" have suffered waves of arrests and injuries - and at least two have been killed by government-aligned militias.

Maduro has been accused by the opposition of behaving like a dictator. GM announced an "immediate cessation of its operations in the country", as a result of seizure. It later took the government to court.

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GM's Venezuelan operations have been a drag on earnings for several years.

A statement issued Thursday by spokesman Stephane Dujarric calls on the Venezuelan government and opposition to "engage sincerely to reactivate dialogue efforts, " especially on issues such as the balance of power among branches of government, the electoral calendar, human rights, truth and justice and the country's socio-economic situation".

The government called the closure illegal.

Coca-Cola was also forced to halt production of Coke and other sugar-sweetened beverages a year ago due to a sugar shortage.

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