CARACAS — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has threatened to nationalize banks and private companies that support the opposition ahead of October elections.
Chavez, 57 spoke at a rally Thursday after returning from Cuba, where he had received follow-up cancer treatment after a surgery there last month to remove a malignant tumor.
His recent health woes have cast a shadow over his bid for a third presidential term, in which he will face off against unified opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, 39, in the October 7 vote.
At the rally broadcast on state TV, Chavez said he is drawing up a “list of actions” to take “if there is an attack against the constitution, the people, and institutions, or if the certain victory of the people is ignored.”
For example, he said, “I have reports of some banks that support these movements.... or some major national and international corporations that earn enough money and support the plans of the opposition,” he said.
“There is nothing wrong with nationalizing major companies for violating the constitution and the national plan.”
During his 13 years in power Chavez, a leftwing firebrand, has nationalized several major industries and threatened to take control of private firms.
Chavez went on to accuse the opposition of “starting to set the stage for violence,” adding: “We must alert the world and ourselves.”
The Venezuelan leader has repeatedly said a victory by the opposition would put the country on a path to war and violence, and has referred to Capriles as a “low-life... pig.”
Chavez underwent surgery in Havana on February 26 to remove a cancerous tumor around his pelvis, the same area where Cuban surgeons extracted a malignant, baseball-sized tumor in June.
Officials in Caracas have never specified the type of cancer the president has, but insist it has not spread to other organs.
The cancer comes at an awkward time for Chavez, who is in the thick of what is expected to be a tough reelection campaign. He has ruled out the possibility of a replacement candidate. — AFP