A new C366 cellular phone launched Sunday by a Venezuelan-Chinese joint venture caused consumer frenzy with President Hugo Chavez calling for calmness.
"Do not break down shop doors," Chavez told his weekly radio and television program "Hello President," presenting the new phone which costs 30 bolivars (14 dollars) and has a camera and an MP3 player, considered to be typical features for phones costing hundreds of dollars, along with the normal functions such as games, a calculator and an address book.
Also on the show, Chavez made his first call using the phone, also known as the Vergatario, to his mother, Elena Frias, and gave her a model of the cell phone as a Mothers' Day gift.
The phone was made by Venezuela Communications (Vetelca), a joint venture 85 percent of which is owned by Venezuela's state-run cellphone company Movilnet and 15 percent by the ZTE Corporation, a Chinese telecoms equipment provider and mobile phone producer.
Yaqueline Farias, president of Movilnet, said the first 10,000 units of the phone had already been sold out and the next 10,000 will be ready on May 13.
She added that another model, the ZTE, is being sold at Movilnet stores.
Venezuela has another cellular phone joint venture, Orinoquia, in Cua, a town in Miranda state. The two firms together can make 2 million handsets a year.
Communication Ministry data say Venezuela's yearly demand is 7 million new handsets a year.