Can Socialists issue fatwas?

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez is known to have expressed little patience for imported leisure pursuits like golf or Scotch whisky tippling. Now he has reserved some ire for another practice that is beloved in Venezuela: breast augmentation surgery.

Blame for the boom in such surgeries here, Mr. Chávez said on state television over the weekend, rested with doctors who “convince some women that if they don’t have some big bosoms, they should feel bad.” He said it was a “monstrous thing” that poor women were seeking breast lifts when they had trouble making ends meet.

“What is this, friend?” Mr. Chávez exclaimed to his viewers.

Mr. Chávez’s comments come at a time when Venezuela has emerged as one of the world’s leading markets for breast augmentation. Between 30,000 and 40,000 women here undergo the procedure each year, according to estimates by the Venezuelan Society of Plastic Surgeons.