GM halts operations in Venezuela after factory is seized

The GM logo is seen in Warren Michigan

Thomson Reuters

As tensions have mounted, the government has used its almost-complete control of Venezuela's institutions to pursue its opponents.

Anti-government protesters rest during a break in clashes with security forces in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, April 19, 2017.

A slew of global firms have pulled out of the country or been forced to halt operations as a result of government interference or moves to put key sectors of the economy under state control.

Venezuela's opposition is looking to keep up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro by taking to the streets again Thursday, a day after hundreds were arrested in the biggest anti-government demonstrations in years.

FILE - In this January 20, 2011, file photo, boxes of Kleenex tissues, a Kimberly-Clark brand, sit on the shelf at a store in San Francisco. The oil producer then took the government to court. "His response to a rogue nation taking over the assets of a brand name USA company will be indicative of the road it wants to take with Venezuela".

In 2016, Kleenex maker Kimberly-Clark suspended its operations in Venezuela, citing the country's "rapidly escalating inflation" and the "continued deterioration of economic and business conditions".

Ford Motor Co.in 2015 wrote off its investment in Venezuela with an $800 million pre-tax writedown.

Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol is blaming an opposition party for the killing of a 23-year-old woman amid ongoing protests in the South American country.

FILE - In this July 15, 2011, file photo, Clorox brand products line the shelf of a supermarket in the East Village neighborhood of NY.

"In 2014 the government announced the "temporary" takeover of two plants belonging to US cleaning products maker Clorox Co., which had left the country", Reuters reports.

The country's economic crisis has hurt many other USA companies, including food makers and pharmaceutical firms. The company won a $1.4 billion judgment, but earlier this year the arbitration panel determined that Venezuela had to pay only $180 million.

The seizure is the latest in a long string of government confiscations of factories and other assets that have been a staple of the so-called 21st century socialist revolution in Venezuela started by the late Hugo Chavez two decades ago.

It's not the first time the Venezuelan government has seized a foreign corporation's facilities.

The packaged foods maker announced in March 2016 that it had exited the Venezuela market with the completion of the sale of its business there to Lengfeld Inc., a private worldwide investor.

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