On Wednesday, NBC reported that American multinational corporation General Motors (GM) announced that one of its Venezuelan plants was abruptly seized by government authorities.
Decrying the “illegal judicial seizure of its assets” — including the facility's cars — as a “total disregard” of the company's legal rights, GM declared the “immediate cessation of its operations in the country.”
The news comes as the country is embroiled in widespread, national protests against President Nicolas Maduro, whose government took control of Venezuela five years ago.
The sheer scale of these protests are massive, even earning the title “the mother of all protests”:
Media reports estimate that hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to protest Maduro, who they say is essentially running a dictatorship — delaying elections, banning opposition leaders from politics, and blocking voters' attempts to remove him from power.
In violent clashes with armed pro-government forces, at least seven protesters have been killed, including a 13-year-old boy and an 18-year-old student who was reportedly shot in the head, according to Reuters.
Nonetheless, reporters on the ground have captured scenes of incredible resolve from these protesters.
In one moment that emerged on social media on Thursday, a lone female protester was seen using her body to block an armored government truck:
The woman's singular stand has drawn close comparisons to the iconic “Tank Man” image from Tiananmen Square, where — in 1989 — an unknown man stepped in front of a line of Chinese tanks amidst a brutal government crackdown:
To this day, the Chinese government continues to censor that image — one that much of the world regards as a symbol of the “pro-democracy protests in the country at the time.”
The two have been called representations of the “struggle for freedom,” freedom from China's communism then and Venezuela's socialism today:
In the U.S. — where protests and praise for socialist values have come to the forefront of late — the unrest in Venezuela has not gone unnoticed.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed the country's crisis directly, saying:
“We are concerned that the government of Maduro is violating its own constitution and is not allowing the opposition to have their voices heard, nor allowing them to organize in ways that expresses the views of the Venezuelan people.”
While it remains unclear what comes next, Venezuela's seizure of GM's facility might be a sign.
America's decades-long embargo of Cuba — which was just lifted under President Obama — came directly after late Communist leader Fidel Castro's government “nationalized 382 businesses” in the country.
With the military pledging their full support to him, President Maduro has declared the protesters “vandals and terrorists,” vowing to “capture all of these criminals who are getting their orders from the right-wingers.”