Caracas: President Hugo Chavez has suggested that oil workers and soldiers who oppose his revolution "should go somewhere else", confronting a scandal after his top oil official was caught on videotape threatening to fire employees who fail to back their leader.

The leaked footage aired on an opposition-aligned private TV station, and on Friday, the president said he may block some private TV channels from renewing their licences next year.

In the wobbly amateur video, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez was shown telling state oil company workers to back Chavez or give up their jobs.

The video, released on Thursday by the opposition, provoked an outcry among critics who argue the government is illegally mobilising its workers and financial might behind Chavez's campaign ahead of the December 3 presidential election.

On Friday, Chavez defended Ramirez, saying he agrees that workers must be loyal to his Bolivarian Revolution movement.

"Of course PDVSA [Petroleos de Venezuela SA] is revolutionary," Chavez said as he inaugurated a new subway line outside Caracas.

"Petroleos de Venezuela workers are with this revolution, and those who aren't should go somewhere else. Go to Miami." Chavez accused opponents of coup-plotting and said the military - like PDVSA - must be totally committed.

"Venezuelan soldiers are in this revolution, and I have told them: anyone who isn't had better leave here," he said.

With the presidential election weeks away, he warned Venezuelans to be alert to "any sign" of a coup attempt.

The state oil company, the country's single largest employer with a 40,000-member work force, has been heavily pro-Chavez since the president dismissed nearly half its workers to end an anti-government oil strike in 2003.

But aides to opposition presidential candidate Manuel Rosales cite electoral rules that prohibit using PDSVA and other arms of the government as campaign tools.