Venezuelan authorities suddenly seized the General Motors plant there, the company confirmed late Wednesday, in a move that broadens the international implications of the country's political and economic decomposition.
The development puts an abrupt end to GM's operations in the country, which the world's third largest automaker described as an "illegal judicial seizure of its assets."
It also comes as the South American nation experiences intense public protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro. Three people were killed late Wednesday as tens of thousands of Venezuelans took the streets to demand fresh presidential elections and the release of jailed opposition politicians.
The country has high crime and inflation rates and there are shortages of many basic goods and services. It is oil-rich but cash-poor. Maduro has used his Socialist government's institutions to pursue political opponents.