Amid Venezuela Protests, GM says Authorities seized its car plant
General Motors became the latest in a wave of international companies that have shut their doors voluntarily or under duress.
General Motors on Thursday accused authorities in Venezuela of illegally seizing its lone assembly plant there and announced a halt to its operations in the South American country.
The plant operated by General Motors Venezolana (GMV) in the northwestern city of Valencia was "unexpectedly taken by the public authorities (on Wednesday), preventing normal operations," the United States automaker said in a statement.
The move came amid violent street protests against the government of President Nicolás Maduro and a deepening economic crisis fueled by Venezuela’s heavy foreign debt and the retreat of world oil prices, which have slashed the country’s main source of income.
The factory had not produced any vehicles since 2015 due to GMV's difficulties in accessing the US dollars it needs to import parts.
Venezuela, which has been gripped by a severe economic crisis in recent years, has strictly limited importers' access to the greenback to bolster its hard-currency reserves.
It said the plant seizure had caused irreparable harm to the company, its 2,678 employees, its network of 79 dealerships and its suppliers.
The automaker said it would pay end-of-service benefits to workers to the extent allowed by the authorities and continue providing service to owners of GM-branded vehicles through its dealer network.
It added that the seizure was arbitrary and that it would vigorously take all legal action, within and outside of Venezuela, to defend its rights.