updated 1/28/2007 8:54:54 PM ET 2007-01-29T01:54:54

President Hugo Chavez denied Sunday 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.

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.

Many wealthy and middle-class Venezuelans opposed to Chavez fear he will seize second homes, yachts or other assets as he advances his “Bolivarian Revolution,” named after South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

“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,” Chavez said during his weekly television and radio program “Hello President.”

Chavez also took aim at Mexican President Felipe Calderon, saying the Mexican leader was jeopardizing his country’s future by forging strong ties with Washington.

Chavez has emerged as one of Washington’s harshest critics, accusing the U.S. of backing a failed 2002 coup against him. The United States denies that allegation, and U.S. officials have accused Chavez of undermining democracy in Venezuela.

Chavez said Calderon was following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Vicente Fox, by making Mexico “subordinate to (U.S.) imperialism and world capitalism.”

Mexico and Venezuela withdrew their ambassadors in 2005 after Chavez called Fox a “puppy of the empire” because of Fox’s support for a U.S.-backed regional free trade agreement. Relations between the two nations have been left at the level of business attaches since then.

On Sunday, Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa said Calderon has tried to reach out to Chavez, including when the two leaders attended the inauguration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega earlier this month.

During a live broadcast from a cattle ranch in Venezuela’s central plains, Chavez inaugurated a series of centers where he said Venezuelans will study socialist ideals while undergoing job training.

As workers milked cows and showed Chavez how they produce cheese, the president asked them about their daily lives and warned against the evils of capitalism.

He urged all Venezuelans to embrace “the socialism that we are going to create.” But Chavez denied that he was attempting to steer oil-rich Venezuela toward Cuba-style communism, as many critics allege.

Chavez has raised concerns by repeatedly saying he wants to continue governing Venezuela until 2021 or longer. He was re-elected to a second, six-year term in December — his last under Venezuela’s Constitution. But Chavez has proposed a constitutional reform that would allow indefinite re-election.

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