Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced the heightening of measures against economic sabotage in the country last Friday after meeting with President Hugo Chavez, currently recovering from cancer surgery in the military hospital Dr. Carlos Arvelo in Caracas.

Maduro reported that the convalescing head of state gave orders to confront sectors of the Venezuelan private sector that through hoarding and price-hiking have been attempting to sow instability in the country.

"The President was very clear in saying that we have to increment the actions to confront the economic war that the bourgeoisie is waging against the people. It's a real economic war and we must continue winning it", Maduro said in a press conference.

Friday's meeting with Chavez lasted for more than 5 hours and included the presence of Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, Science Minister Jorge Arreaza, Communication Minister Ernesto Villegas, and the head of the national intelligence service Miguel Rodriguez.

While details on the actions that will be taken against those members of the business community who engage in illicit activity were not forthcoming, Maduro said that they would be formulated "to favor the public and our national interests".

For months, Venezuela has seen a shortage of some basic commodities as unscrupulous businessmen seeking to subvert government price-controls on staple products withhold the commodities from the shelves.

The products are then either sold on the black market at double the price or shipped illegally to Colombia as contraband. Many retailers are also taking advantage of a recent devaluation in the country's currency, the bolivar, to raise prices exponentially.

Vice President Maduro said last week that his discussions with Chavez included proposals on how to limit inflation in the country, maintain economic growth and ensure food security for the population. "These are topics that will be decided upon and implemented in the coming weeks in order to strengthen agricultural and food production and solidify productive in-vestment as well as industrial development", Maduro said.

The Venezuelan VP also suggested that many of the problems associated with the market in recent months have their origins in external interests. "The attacks against the economy in general have as their source the enemies of our country. Some of them have Venezuelan ID cards, others have documents from other countries", Maduro imputed, adding that the conspiracy "will be dismantled".

With respect to the health of President Chavez, the VP reported that the head of state is rigorously following his medical program. "The President is receiving his treatment. He has a problem with respiratory insufficiency that is being treated intensively", Maduro informed. "He is making an effort with extraordinary spirits, with a smile and bright, vibrant eyes... We left [the meeting] full of energy and strength that we are passing on to the people", the Vice President added.

Chavez was operated on in Cuba on December 11 after a relapse of the cancer that first appeared in his pelvic region in June 2011. He returned to Venezuela on February 18 and has since been receiving treatment at the Military Hospital Dr. Carlos Arvelo in the capital Caracas.