GM halts operations in Venezuela after factory is seized

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Three people were killed Wednesday as police and security forces clashed with tens of thousands of Venezuelans who took the streets to demand new presidential elections and the release of political dissidents from prison.

General Motors GM.N said on Wednesday that Venezuelan authorities had illegally seized its plant in the industrial hub of Valencia and vowed to "take all legal actions" to defend its rights.

GM described the takeover as an "illegal judicial seizure of its assets". GM did not provide details about the unexpected seizure.

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Whether or not yesterday's seizure has affected GM's supply chain in other markets is unclear at this time.

"It fits a broader pattern, in the sense that the government's response to surges in opposition activity tends to be the deepening of the revolution", said Phil Gunson, a Venezuela-based analyst for the International Crisis Group.

The country's economic crisis has hurt many other USA companies, including food makers and pharmaceutical firms. The country is in the midst of a years-long brutal economic depression, their currency is almost worthless, unemployment is said to be as high as 25 percent, and violent protests have broken out as a result of these things. It is oil-rich but cash-poor. Ford lost even more in Venezuela that same year.

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CNN Money said GM Venezolana has operated in Venezuela for 70 years, employing about 2,700 workers there.

Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, have seized the assets of foreign companies on several occasions, including a "temporary" takeover of two plants owned by US company Clorox in 2014. Maduro succeed Chavez in 2013.

The Detroit automaker said in a statement Thursday that other assets such as vehicles were taken from the plant, causing irreparable damage to the company.

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Production at the GM plant in the city of Valencia has been interrupted repeatedly in recent years due to import restrictions and shortages of parts and raw materials.

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