Amidst rising anti-government protests in Venezuela, General Motors has been forced to stop operations in the country. Their only plant in the country was taken by the government in what the company is calling “an illegal judicial seizure of its assets.”
General Motors Venezolana had been producing cars in the country since 1948, at a factory in Valencia. It assembled cars for local sale like the Chevrolet Spark and Orlando. Venezuela’s falling oil production and suffering economy had lead to production shortages and stoppages since 2014, but GM had not expected the sudden seizure of the plant, along with vehicles and parts at the facility that had employed nearly 2,700 workers.
GM isn’t the only company producing cars in the country, but none of the others have yet had the same government action taken against them. A Ford plant in the country was already closed due to lack of demand, but Toyota and Fiat Chrysler, among others, are still operating. New car production in the country has fallen from nearly 200,000 cars in 2007 to just under 3,000 last year.
It’s not the first time that the assets of US companies have been seized in the country. Some of the most notable include two plants owned by cleaning company Clorox that were seized in 2014. Energy company ExxonMobil has been seeking compensation for nearly $2 billion in assets seized by the Venezuelan government.
Opposition protests began three weeks ago after the Supreme Court removed political powers from the opposition-controlled congress. The protests have seen hundreds of arrests and at least eight deaths.
General Motors hopes to regain control of their facilities and resume production in the country, saying that they are “confident that justice will eventually be served.” They also plan to pay out separation benefits to employees, if the government allows.
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