President Hugo Chavez denied that his left-leaning government would seize private property - such as second homes or expensive cars - from the wealthy and called on Venezuelans not to fear his accelerated push toward socialism.
"Nobody should allow themselves to be imbued with fear. If anybody should be scared, we should be scared of capitalism, which destroys society, people and the planet," said Chavez, speaking during his weekly television and radio program "Hello President" on Sunday.
But Chavez also warned political opponents that "nothing would stop" the progress of what he calls "21st-century socialism," saying a majority of Venezuelans want to gradually move away from capitalism.
Chavez recently announced plans for a "luxury tax" targeting second homes, art collections and expensive cars that would be aimed at redistributing wealth to the poor. But some fear he could go even further by seizing such assets as he advances his Bolivarian Revolution - a political movement named after South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.