At a ceremony in which cabinet members were sworn into office, newly-re-elected Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has pledged to deepen centralising reforms. He has promised to strip the central bank of its autonomy and announced plans to nationalise utilities, including the nation’s largest telecommunications firm. “All of those things that were privatised will be nationalised,” he said. “We are recuperating all that was social property.”
Chavez is also seeking special powers enabling him to legislate by presidential decree. He rejects opposition claims that such moves will turn Venezuela into a Cuban-style one-party state. He said four multi-billion dollar crude oil projects, which are run by major foreign companies such as ExxonMobil and BP, should become state property. A fierce critic of the US Bush administration, Chavez has been in power in Venezuela since 1999. His own swearing into office, for a third term, is due to take place on Wednesday.