By on April 24, 2017

 

Ren Cen. GM

Last week, General Motors’ long-idled Venezuela assembly plant fell into the hands of the country’s autocratic government, sparking the automaker’s exit from the strife-ridden nation.

With its material assets out of its hands, the automaker’s Venezuelan subsidiary jettisoned the plant’s entire 2,700-person workforce today, Reuters reports. It did so in as abrupt a manner as the takeover itself. Meanwhile, the government wants to chat.

According to one longtime employee, his company email account was deactivated over the weekend. Today, he told Reuters that, “We all received a payment and a text message.”

That story was the same for another worker, who claimed, “Our former bosses told us the executives left and we were all fired. There is no longer anyone in the country.”

The plant hadn’t produced a vehicle since 2015, given the country’s dire economic situation. At the time of the seizure, local media claimed the takeover stemmed from a 17-year-old lawsuit over nullified contracts with Chevrolet dealers in the city of Maracaibo. In response, GM stated it would cease operations there immediately.

One report stated one of the plant’s unions had taken over the plant weeks before the facility fell into government hands, with company officials barred from entering by union members.

Now, it seems that the country’s government would like the automaker to reconsider. According to Reuters, the government of Nicholas Maduro claims it doesn’t want to expropriate the 35-year-old facility, and would like GM to return.

“To the current General Motors president of Venezuela, Jose Cavaileri: You come here, show your face and share with us the options to restore normality,” Labor Minister Francisco Torrealba said today.

Based on GM’s actions and the fact that neither it, nor any other automaker, has been able to build or sell vehicles in any appreciable quantity in the country in recent years, the outlook for an agreement doesn’t look good. GM previously stated it would pursue all legal options to defend its rights.

[Image: General Motors]

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65 Comments on “GM Fires Its Venezuelan Workforce, Many by Text, as It Flees Country...”


  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Email firing?

    They prefer Twitter?

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Govt Goons: “We are taking this manufacturing plant in the name of the People and the Glorious Revolution.”

    GM: “Okay, take it. We’ll go home and take those jobs with us. We haven’t been able to actually make cars there anyway because this place is completely dysfunctional. Maybe you need to convince some Cubans to come down there and show you how to keep cars running forever, because you sure ain’t getting new ones from us.”

    Govt: “That thing about us ‘taking’ the factory? Yeah, we really didn’t mean it. Come back, pretty please?!”

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Completely agree.

      This story reminds me of the movie “Proof of Life”, in which fictitious rebels take over a US pipeline installation in a South American country and kidnap the head engineer.

      GM’s had enough, and I don’t blame them. The workers can take up their complaint with their union and the government.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Somewhere out there, the old Fiat 128 tooling must be available. They can start building Ladas for the glorious Democratic Peoples Republic of Venezuelastanqi.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      +10, also to SCE to AUX and APaGttH as well.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Following the example of our Commander and Chief–twitter those firings “You’re fired”.

    Venezuela could import some of those Russian diesels that the Cubans put in those old Detroit iron to keep them running. The Cubans could give those Venezuelans a course in how to use Bondo, can spray painting your ride, and how to re-manufacturer those hard to get parts or they could always get parts from the Chinese.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Somehow I suspect that the Chinese will find a good use for that plant, and already have plans on how to export whatever raw materials Venezuela may be able to produce.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    More reason to build that wall. (Even though there are 6 countries in between)

    • 0 avatar

      Lou_BC,
      Mexico has been asking the US for financial assistance in building a wall on their southern border. So maybe we can get a 2 wall buffer :)

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        stephen – that is true. Mexico has a big problem of their own with illegal immigration from Guatemala and other central American states.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        That’s not a bad idea, assuming it will lead to a Mexico not run mostly by cartels and fear.

        I’d honestly wish we didn’t need to build a wall, but there is little doubt that its needed with all that is going on down there.

        I always wanted to drive an SUV from North America (lets say the Can-U.S. border on I-5 in Washington state) to South America. I would love the adventures and the weird cars and the junkyards full of parts that may fit our old cars.

        I’d also be elated if I could import an early Chevy Opala from Brazil, and a 70s-90s Ford Falcon from Argentina (or enough parts to remake one based on an American 1960s Falcon).

        Too bad I’d be murdered 1,831 times before I got down there. :(

        LMAO
        “hold me for ransom? Jokes on you buddy! I’m in a 1993 Montero running on stop leak for the past 150 miles since a random gun shot took out my radiator and caused a blown head gasket, since I couldn’t exactly stop in the middle of a gunfight to cool it down, so good luck with all that.”

        Bang.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          Many year ago when I was young and dumb (Vs. old & foolish now) I bought a VW out of a junk yard, fixed it up and drove it to Guatemala where I decided to live for a year .

          Lots of fun and mostly good times, the folks in Guatemala were *much* friendlier than the ones in Mexico, a country I like and have traveled extensively .
          .
          I saw some junk yards full of neat stuff but never could manage to get in any .
          .
          -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Nice. Thanks for sharing man. I do like Latin America, and I would love to see it one day. But, that day won’t be any time soon. :(

            You should’ve bought a new VW beetle the same color as your old one and brought it back, haha. Of course this may have been at a time when you could still buy a new one here, not sure.

            I’ve threatened in the past to do this with an early 1990s Sentra and a new(er) Tsuru.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          The fear is strong with this one!

          My sister and her wife are currently touring Latin America by sailboat. They have yet to whiteness a gunfight or a murder.

          They’ve seen plenty of bureaucratic hassles and unexpected fees, though. And the restricted/expensive internet access in Cuba was inconvenient.

          I think your image of Latin America is rather exaggerated. There are dangerous parts, of course, but most of what they’ve encountered has sounded pretty similar to traveling through an economically depressed part of the US.

          That said you really do need to be able to speak some Spanish to get by.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Lol, people don’t feel the need to buy an armor plated Ford Focus in Jackson, Mississippi. The same cannot be said for Sãn Paolo.

            I think your views of the “flyover” U.S. are exaggerated, bigoted and woefully out of date.

            Is the murder rate in Mobile, Al or Biloxi, Ms as high as it is in large cities in, say, Brazil or Guatemala? Are drug cartels running Georgia and Louisiana? Is the state government of Tennessee seizing factories and causing hyper inflation so as to put basic human requirements (like food) strictly in the “luxury” category? Wow. I’ve been living here in the “economically depressed U.S.” so long, I guess I didn’t notice the shanty towns, sewage in the streets, that milk and bread cost a week’s wages, and gunfire and mayhem abound everywhere.

            I am so happy your rich sis and wife can avoid all of the inconvenient cartel-related violence and disorder by being on a boat. That obviously means walking the streets downtown of a major city in Latin America at 3 am is as safe as doing so in Shreveport. Seriosuly, go look at things like violent crime statistics down there.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            I drove a 1966 Typ III ‘Squareback’ I resurrected , yes this was when new Beetles are $1,995.00 IIRC .
            .
            I had some issues, got run off the road by a death squad, got in some fights, the usual stupid assed things a young man does .
            .
            I sold the car there and bought a 1937 Harley-Davidson EL ‘Knucklehead’ Moto (61″ engine) , rebuilt it from the ground up with plans to ride it home to America but then they had a military coup (General Lucas) and I skedaddled home, left the bike behind .
            .
            I’m told my foolish mis adventures would fill a book but who’d care ? .
            .
            I _really_ like traveling South of the border, nice people and killed good food for cheap .
            .
            -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          NN

          I’ve been to El Salvador 6x, which is statistically one of the most dangerous countries in the world, not long ago with the highest per capita murder rate outside of Iraq/Syria. I fly in, rent my own car, and drive along the coast, staying at inexpensive surf huts ($20/night). It’s a beautiful place with some of the best surf in the Americas, and friendly locals thankful for some tourists. I’m a tall pasty white man, although I do speak some Spanish. I’ve never had a problem. The violence is all between drug gangs and mostly in San Salvador. I liken it to Chicago…I go to Chicago frequently for business also, and have no fear staying downtown. Yet statistically it is an awful place, with a latin-american murder rate. It’s all in the bad areas that you avoid.

          I think most of Latin America is similar…be modest in your belongings/appearance, stay away from drugs and obviously bad areas, and you’ll be fine. Venezuela might be different, obviously, considering it’s descent into chaos.

  • avatar
    here4aSammich

    This is my favorite part of the story…

    “To the current General Motors president of Venezuela, Jose Cavaileri: You come here, show your face and share with us the options to restore normality,” Labor Minister Francisco Torrealba said today.

    I mean, seriously, how could GM NOT take the labor minister up on his offer? Sounds business friendly to me. But then, I can’t imagine the current government has much more than 6 months before the Venezuelans revolt violently.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      yeah. Sr. Torrealba, you can’t play hardball if you don’t have the ball.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I think he was misquoted or mistranslated.

      Seems like I heard:”…show your face’ after we took over your factory and are in the process of flushing our country down the toilet. We *DARE* you. We will need a live CNN feed for your arrival to the palace, followed, of course, by your murder seen live to ‘send a message’ to our enemies! (when our own worst enemy is ourselves all along lolz I mean look how we phucked this up so far).”

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        I read the quote as “you tell us how you plant to quell the unrest and make the plant work, and maybe we’ll listen.”

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          There’s always somebody who still doesn’t have the tools to figure out what’s wrong with an ideology that has killed tens of millions in its hundred years of existence.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        still doesn’t make sense. They tanked their own economy, GM hasn’t been building anything at that plant for a while (yet still paying people) and once the plant was seized, said “screw this, we’re outta here.” What has GM lost? Nothing. What leverage does Venezuela have to try to get them back to the table? None.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The wall is a just another waste of Government funds. A good tunnel makes a wall a waste.

    What normality can be restored unless you count not producing a single vehicle since 2015. GM is wise to just write this off as a loss and move on. The Chinese could always sell Venezuela some of their own cars in exchange for their oil, just don’t manufacture in Venezuela. Six months there will be another dictator in chief so let the Chinese deal with them.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      Venezuelan oil is both heavy and sour. Not what Beijing needs, more SO2 pollution to go along with the mess they already have.
      If the Chavistas had invested in a refinery of their own way back when, instead of immediately investing in bread and circuses, they wouldn’t necessarily be on the verge of collapse. Refineries are very expensive, but not nearly as expensive as their #1 export revenue falling off a cliff.
      To expand on a point Lou_BC has been making, the Chavistas are both corrupt and totalitarian, but what hurts their people even worse is that they are stupid. As in dumb as a sack of hammers.
      I anticipate eventually seeing Maduro’s final photo, sharing many similarities with Che’s final Bolivian photos.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        @chuckrs

        No, it’s not about a refinery back then.

        The simple fact is that Communism does not work. People has no incentive to work hard and be creative. It’s like, why lay the golden egg when it’s certain the egg will be taken away?

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Jeff S – the Russians are the ones to watch.

      “Rosneft, Russia’s state-controlled oil company, could end up with a majority stake in Texas-based Citgo after the entity that owns Citgo, Venezuela’s state-owned oil and natural gas company PDVSA, used almost half of Citgo’s shares as collateral for a loan from Rosneft.”

      @chuckrs – thanks and yes. They are corrupt and very stupid.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    “Now, it seems that the country’s government would like the automaker to reconsider. According to Reuters, the government of Nicholas Maduro claims it doesn’t want to expropriate the 35-year-old facility, and would like GM to return.

    “To the current General Motors president of Venezuela, Jose Cavaileri: You come here, show your face and share with us the options to restore normality,” Labor Minister Francisco Torrealba said today.”

    I just happen to be reading the end of Atlas Shrugged at the moment, and it’s scary how much the Venezuela situation mirrors the decay prevalent at the end of that book. Leftists hate, hate, hate Ayn Rand, but I find the correlation between what she imagined in the 50’s and what has actually happened with a socialist government taken “all the way” both interesting and disturbing.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I enjoyed Ayn Rand,and was a libertarian for a time. Now I’m a liberal.

      The thing that’s problematic about Ayn Rand is that she ignored so much about human nature. Which is why I found Atlas Shrugged to be insightful when I was a teenager (she explained some things that I hadn’t figured out for myself), but I find its value to be limited now (because I’ve learned things about relationships and the way humans group together that she never understood or dismissed).

      What’s annoying about Ayn Rand is that they go around insisting the book explains *everything*, and they think that if you’d just read the book you’d be enlightened. Well, I do *hate* that.

      But, yeah, Venezuela does seem to be collapsing because they’re stifling free enterprise. Free enterprise is one of several pillars that make a nation work — but there are many more, and so the fixes aren’t as easy as Rand would think.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy67

        Rand was a screaming hypcrite:

        http://www.openculture.com/2016/12/when-ayn-rand-collected-social-security-medicare.html

        • 0 avatar
          operagost

          Why should you NOT collect entitlements that you were forced to pay into?

          Certainly, it is a laudable show of morality to not accept it on principle. But you can’t exactly criticize someone for taking back part of what was seized from them. Unless you’re a thief, of course.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “Seized.” LOL…you have to love the victim mentality here.

            No one forced Ayn Rand to cash those checks. I guess “going Galt” wasn’t for her after all. Hey, I get it. I’d cash the checks too. But I’m not the one making hay off (and a fat living on) my superior intellectual noodling, am I?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      yet another who confuses “socialist” with “totalitarian.”

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Ironically, Rand’s argument (and I use that word lightly) was that government involvement in the economy limits competition or free enterprise.

      And then the same folks who buy into that usually parrot her line…using a computer whose technology was funded by the government, over an Internet connection that also came to be due to government funding.

      The lesson today? Central planning doesn’t work. It didn’t work in the Soviet Union, and it didn’t work in Venezuela.

      Our “leftist” model, which involves the government directly funding tech through spending, or indirectly through tax credits, and then letting companies sell that tech, does. And I argue we should be doing more, not less, of this.

      (And, oh, yeah…speaking of “Atlas Shrugged,” who’s taking the lead in creating high speed trains these days? I’ll give you a hint – it’s not private capital.)

      Rand was dead wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        I’ve known a few Randists and they were always mystified when I didn’t abase myself and kneel in thanks for their letting me breathe in the same room.

        Then they hopped to yet another job, searching for management that *finally* appreciates them.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          The Rand fandom is a phase many people go through, like being a rabid Neil Young fan for a ten-month period during your junior year in college (and the Young fandom usually dies about the same time that a cheap supply of weed ends).

          Eventually, they use their (obviously superior) intellect and discover while that in “Atlas Shrugged,” the government was the big bad entity trying to make trains run slower, in real life, it’s the government trying to make them run faster because private capital wants nothing to do with trains anymore.

          And so ends the Rand fandom.

          • 0 avatar
            operagost

            The problem with socialists like yourselves is that you act as if Ayn Rand was the be-all, end-all of libertarian philosophy, when much smarter people like Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman, and Friedrich von Hayek have much more insightful things to say. They just aren’t as entertaining as a novelist.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Read “Capitalism the Unknown Ideal” – pure capitalism is like pure libertarianism. The abstract idea is not necessarily compatible with reality.

            (This coming from someone who is libertarian in social issues and acepts the basic tenets of Laissez Faire capitalism.)

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Thankfully ,
            .
            Most people are more perceptive as Adults than they were @ age 12 or so, that’s the age group level atlas shrugged was written for .
            .
            Thieves all love randian philosophy, it allows then to steal and have an excuse .
            .
            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Were you directing that comment at me, operagost?

            If so, then pray tell: why do you think that being critical of Ayn Rand makes me a socialist?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The Chinese would be more than happy to take Venezuelan oil and give them loans to build roads and infrastructure. The Chinese already have a refinery that can refine the heavy crude and would like to get further access to South America. The smart thing would have been for Venezuela to build a refinery or refineries to refine the heavy crude but you need to remember that this is a socialist dictatorship in South America which tend to not think in terms of long term sustainability. It is better to let the evil capitalist invest in their country then nationalize the assets, but the evil capitalist don’t want to take anymore risks. The Chinese will be more than happy to take the resources in exchange for a loan that is really not a loan.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Lou_BC–Maybe the Russians are the ones to watch but I am willing to bet the Chinese will beat the Russians to it. The Chinese have most of South America locked up in trade with China being the largest trade partner in exchange for resources. The Chinese give infrastructure loans in exchange for long term deals for natural resources. Watch the International News in Mexico, Jamaica, and other Caribbean nations and you will see reports of China negotiating deals with South American countries.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    GM hasn’t built a car there since 2015. Do the employees just show up every day in case there’s something to do? The government takes over a defunct factory and NOW they’re fired?

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I think GM has another, bigger thing to worry about since the SCOTUS essentially found against GM today, re: liability vis-a-vis bankruptcy, by upholding the finding of the lower court against GM.

      If it makes NBR, itsa biggie!

      • 0 avatar
        LarryC213

        highdesertcat, you wrote: “I think GM has another, bigger thing to worry about since the SCOTUS essentially found against GM today, re: liability vis-a-vis bankruptcy, by upholding the finding of the lower court against GM. If it makes NBR, itsa biggie!’

        what does NBR stand for? Thank you.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    Hmmm

    So when there’s no profit incentive, companies no longer have any reason to do business, or have jobs for people to do. Making the “workers” even poorer.

    Who could have possibly seen this coming?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I doubt GM is in any danger of going out of business anytime soon. It is a smart move for GM to get out of Venezuela and not to waste anymore time and resources. Any liability and bankruptcy issues will be sorted out, the last thing the Government wants is to see GM crash and burn. GM still has a bright future but a repeat of past mistakes could be the final nail in the coffin. GM is still in a much better position than FCA.

    I don’t have the hate for GM that some on this website have but I agree that GM has a ways to go and I doubt the Government will give them another loan

  • avatar
    RHD

    GM now has a tax write-off to counterbalance their ignition switch fine and liability claims. There wasn’t going to be much happening in Venezuela for the foreseeable future, anyway.

  • avatar
    LarryC213

    Here’s a novel idea, try making cars and trucks in the U.S. with real American employees. I can see them (and others) wanting out of that hell-hole called Michigan, but there are plenty of other places to build cars and trucks in the U.S.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Newsflash- they weren’t building stuff in Venezuela for export to the US, you jingoist twit.

      • 0 avatar
        operagost

        You might want to look up the word “jingo”.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          We don’t want to fight but by Jingo if we do,
          We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men, we’ve got the money too,
          We’ve fought the Bear before, and while we’re Britons true,
          The Russians shall not have Constantinople.

          When Benito Mussolini was threatening to invade Abyssinia in 1935, the British comic magazine Punch published a parody:

          We don’t want you to fight but by Jingo if you do, We will probably issue a joint memorandum suggesting a mild disapproval of you.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Right after you look up what was made in the Venezuelan factory, and let us know how much of it ended up being sold here.

          (Preview answer: absolutely nothing…which means Jim was right.)

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    Wanna “restore normality”, Torrealba? Convince your boss to resign and hold free, fair elections that include the opposition.

    I’m sure GM and many other businesses will be glad to do business in Venezuela again…once the current, disastrous regime has been relegated to the dumpster of history.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Another Participant medal for socialism. But by all means keep trying. I’m sure we’ll find our perfect, iron-fisted, spirit-crushing utopia someday.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Wasn’t that plant already idled last year, and only running a skeleton crew since 2014?

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