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Venezuela seizes GM vehicle plant

Venezuela seizes GM vehicle plant

Opponents are pushing for Maduro's removal through early elections and the release of scores of political prisoners. On Wednesday alone, more than 500 protesters were arrested nationwide, according to Penal Forum, a local NGO that provides legal assistance to detainees.

"They're using a Venezuelan's death, for which they're responsible, to commit slander", Machado said on Twitter.

The opposition has accused Maduro of letting state forces and gangs of armed thugs violently repress demonstrators as he resists opposition pressure for him to quit.

The General Motors plant in Venezuela is located in the northern city of Valencia.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) is in shock.

He says US and other foreign companies operating in Venezuela "should have no illusions about the risks of doing business under the current regime".

As protesters with burning eyes headed home, the opposition called for another round of street demonstrations on Thursday. "We're fed up. We want elections to get Maduro out, because he's destroyed this country", said protester Ingrid Chacon, a 54-year-old secretary.

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Photos and videos of the man have flooded Venezuelan social media.

General Motors has stopped operations in Venezuela after its only plant there was illegally seized by authorities, the automaker says in a statement.

But GM isn't changing tack. In other words, GM's assets in the country are frozen, but authorities emphasize that the plant should continue production. The dealership had been seeking damages from GM of 476 million bolivars - about $665 million at the official exchange rate, but just $115 million on the black market where many Venezuelans are forced to turn to sell their increasingly worthless currency.

Venezuela said it took the action to resolve a long-running dispute involving GM going back to 2000.

Both Movistar and Telefonica haven't responded to requests for comment.

Two students and a National Guard officer were killed in Wednesday's demonstrations, bringing the death toll in demonstrations this month to eight.

The minister said a preliminary investigation suggests that the Vente Venezuela attack on Ramirez was planned in advance.

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The 23-year-old woman, Paola Ramirez, died after being shot in the head in the western city of San Cristobal, the state prosecution service said later in a statement.

The seizure arose from an nearly 20-year-old lawsuit brought by a former GM dealership in western Venezuela. It was unclear how many people remained in custody.

The company said the "illegal judicial seizure" would cause "irreparable damage" to GM, its suppliers, its 79 dealers and almost 2,700 employees of the plant.

It's not immediately clear why Venezuelan officials felt the need to take over GM's plant or how this may affect the automaker in surrounding South American markets such as Brazil, Colombia and Argentina. The company says it will defend itself legally and it's confident that justice eventually will prevail.

"A fair, predictable and transparent judicial system is critical to implementing the essential economic reforms critical to restoring growth and addressing the needs of the Venezuelan people", State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

The question is why the socialist government of embattled president President Nicolas Maduro-the handpicked successor to now-deceased strongman Hugo Chavez-would seize the GM plant.

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