'Socialism or death'

At his swearing-in, Chavez promised to implement "socialism Venezuelan-style" and paraphrased Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the Argentine-born Cuban revolutionary hero, proclaiming: "Fatherland, socialism or death!"

He has said he would model his socialist system, funded by Venezuela's oil wealth, on the writings of Karl Marx, Vladimir Ilich Lenin and the Bible.

On Monday, Chavez announced that he would ask the legislature to approve the "mother of all revolutionary laws" giving him the power to nationalise the energy and telecommunications sectors.

The proposed legislation would allow him to end foreign control of heavy crude oil refineries in the Orinoco belt in the east.

Chavez also said the country's central bank need not be autonomous.