Venezuela Seizes GM Plant Amid Growing Crisis, Protests

By Faye Higbee

Whatever vestiges of Democracy remained in Venezuela, they appear to be history. The government seized a GM Plant in Valencia, prompting General Motors to stop production and leave the country. The move comes amid massive protests by the people against what has obviously become a dictatorship run by Nicholas Maduro.

“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.” GM Statement

General Motors Venezolana has operated in their country for 70 years. The plant has 2,700 workers and 79 dealers. The company says they will give separation pay to their workers.

Protesters demand free elections. People who are hungry tend to not be particularly amenable to the actions of Maduro, who has managed to block the opposition from doing anything to remove him from office. He calls their protests a “coup.”

Yesterday’s protest turned deadly as two people were shot to death during the protests , a 17 year old boy, and a 23 year old woman. Later that evening, a Venezuelan National Guard Member was killed, and another wounded.

In 1950, Venezuela had the 4th Highest per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But now, it’s economy continues to shrink by double digits. It’s unemployment rate is at 25%. It’s inflation rate is 800%. Food is scarce, lines are long, and there have been reports of people eating their own pets. Even the Venezuelan military began trafficking in food as shipments to the hungry nation plummeted.

Coca Cola pulled its operation out of Venezuela in 2016 due to a shortage of sugar. It may take the country decades to recover from this economic mess, even if they manage to rid themselves of Maduro.

Featured photo via Antonio @antonioscastles on Twitter. 2.5 Million people in attendance at the protests, according to Antonio.