The Americas

Venezuelan authorities seize General Motors factory amid deepening turmoil

The spark for the march came from an attempt by the Supreme Court to shut down the opposition-controlled National Assembly; Steve Harrigan has the story for Special Report

 

Venezuelan authorities seized the General Motors’ plant in the industrial hub of Valencia, amid a deepening economic crisis that has already roiled many U.S. companies.

GM vowed in a statement to "take all legal actions," saying the seizure is illegal and would cause irreparable damage to the company, its 2,678 workers, its 79 dealers and to its suppliers.

GM has been the market leader in leftist-led Venezuela for over 35 years.

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"Yesterday, GMV's (General Motors Venezolana) plant was unexpectedly taken by the public authorities, preventing normal operations. In addition, other assets of the company, such as vehicles, have been illegally taken from its facilities," the statement read.

If the government permits it, workers will get separation benefits "arising from the termination of employment relationships due to causes beyond the parties' control," the GM statement said.

Dealers will continue to service vehicles and provide parts, the company said.

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Venezuela's car industry has been in freefall, hit by a lack of raw materials stemming from complex currency controls and stagnant local production, and many plants are barely producing at all.

Venezuela's Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for information.

Venezuela's government has taken over factories in the past. In 2014 the government announced the "temporary" takeover of two plants belonging to U.S. cleaning products maker Clorox Co which had left the country.

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The country's economic crisis has hurt many other U.S. companies, including food makers and pharmaceutical firms. Companies have been cutting operations in Venezuela as a result of runaway inflation and strict currency controls.

Last May, tire maker Bridgestone sold its business there after six decades of operating in the country. Bridgestone joined other foreign multinationals including Halliburton, Ford Motor and Procter & Gamble who have either slowed or abandoned their investments in Venezuela.

Reuters and AP contributed to this report.