“We’ll take it, we’ll expropriate it, we’ll pay them what it’s worth and immediately call on the Chinese,” Mr. Chavez said. Chinese companies, he said, are willing to make vehicles made for the countryside.
In recent years, Mr. Chavez has nationalized dozens of foreign-owned companies and sometimes entire sectors of the economy, including cement companies, coffee companies and oil-services firms. The moves were part of his effort to move Venezuela toward “21st century socialism.”
Toyota’s assembly plant in Venezuela has more than 2,000 workers, and has been in the South American nation for more than 50 years.Attempts to reach Toyota’s local office weren’t successful.
Venezuela’s auto sector is in tatters amid recurring labor problems that have led to a lack of productivity. Analysts say many auto workers hope their company is nationalized so they can become de facto government workers and enjoy the extra job security that comes with that status.
As a result of low productivity, demand for automobiles far outstrips supply in Venezuela. Demand is also enhanced by subsidized gasoline in this oil-rich nation that makes a gallon of gasoline cost about seven cents.Eduardo Blanco, who manages a Toyota dealership in the Los Palos Grandes neighborhood of Caracas, said last week that he has 600 people on a waiting list for vehicles, and that only a half a dozen cars arrive at his lot each month.