Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has moved to clip the wings of Venezuela’s opposition following its partial victory in local and regional elections last week.
The government launched legal actions against senior opposition figures and a television station and tried to weaken newly elected opposition governors and mayors.
The president, claiming his socialist revolution was in peril, also threatened to mobilize the military should his foes step out of line.
“The revolution is armed and prepared to counter those who may attack the people. We won’t show them mercy,” he said.
Chavez accepted electoral defeat in major urban centers but the martial rhetoric signaled a rough ride ahead for his emboldened opponents.
The former soldier said his opponents were “little Yankees” who were plotting with Washington to overthrow him: “It’s part of a plan. They are coming for me. They want to try to topple me.”
Manuel Rosales, the new mayor of Maracaibo, was hauled before a congressional hearing on Friday to be questioned about corruption claims. A criminal charge has been revived against another victorious candidate, Henrique Capriles.
In a separate move, control of a Caracas police force has been shifted to central government.
The president has also proposed appointing regional commissioners who would challenge the authority of state governors.