U.S. reviewing Venezuela's seizure of GM assets

VENEZUELA

Thousands took part in protests Wednesday against president Nicolas Maduro including in Caracas

"This is the moment", said Raquel Belfort, a 42-year-old protester in wealthier eastern Caracas on Thursday, sporting a hat in the yellow, blue and red colors of the Venezuelan flag.

The opposition accuses Mr Maduro of letting state forces and gangs of armed thugs violently repress demonstrators. Severe shortages of staple food and medicines have only intensified the problems. President Nicolas Maduro accused Kimberly-Clark of participating in an global plot to damage Venezuela's economy. Inaugural committee records filed with the Federal Election Commission show Citgo Petroleum, a USA affiliate of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, was one of the biggest corporate donors to events surrounding the swearing-in ceremony.

A naked demonstrator approached heavily armed police, holding out a Bible.

The man's back was marked with bruises from rubber bullets. At one point, he climbed onto an armoured police vehicle and officers shouted for him to get down. While this was reversed three days later, protests had already erupted. Police kept their distance, and protesters hushed when he passed.

Junior Perdomo, 36, an analyst at GM Venezuela, said he learned of the takeover Monday on a social network, and that on Tuesday a dealership representative came to the plant to explain the situation.

The lawsuit was brought by a former GM dealership in western Venezuela.

GM has said it was notified this week that a low-level court ordered an embargo of its plant, bank accounts and other assets in the country.

The State Department said Thursday it was reviewing details of the GM case but called on authorities to act swiftly and transparently to resolve the dispute. He adds that "a fair, predictable and transparent judicial system" is critical to implementing judicial reforms. Government supporters, who also took to the streets on Wednesday at the urging of the president, dismiss the opposition marches as violent efforts to overthrow Maduro with the backing of ideological adversaries in the United States.

Across the country, the clashes have been intense. And Thursday, 223 people were wounded in the demonstrations.

Vente Venezuela did not immediately respond to the accusation.

"Henrique Capriles has said in an irresponsible manner that the government is guilty of these deaths and therefore will have to prove these serious allegations in court". As many as eight people are believed to have been killed in clashes this month.

Tahan said members of the union were able to enter the plant, but that no managers from the company were allowed by the government. "We'll see who tires out first". "We ask Pope Francis to do for Venezuela what Pope John Paul II did for Poland", Father Jose Palmar told The Guardian.

Wilfredo Coronel, a 42-year-old priest, held up a rosary in his right hand.

"People are sick of this. we've touched rock bottom".

Maduro called for an investigation of Movistar, a subsidiary of Spain's Telefonica, during a televised speech on Thursday, saying the company had supported a "coup".

At least nine people have died from the protests. So far his government has made a decision to pay down its debts over feeding its people.

The country's economic crunch took another turn this week as the government seized a General Motors plant, prompting the auto giant to say it was halting operations in Venezuela.

According to GM, other assets like vehicles were also taken away from the facility, resulting in irreversible damage to the firm.

"[GM] strongly rejects the arbitrary measures taken by the authorities and will vigorously take all legal actions, within and outside of Venezuela, to defend its rights", the company said in a statement.

According to commentators, though the company has said it would defend itself legally, getting compensated could be extremely hard.

Venezolana was established in 1948 and employs about 2,700 workers.

This past week, the country has been racked by massive protests that were met with force by Venezuelan security forces.

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