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Chavez heralds el cheapo 'Bolivarian PC'

Cheap oil, now cheap computing

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has already promised to sell cheap oil to the United States' poor, and now he's going to offer cheap PCs, too.

The Venezuelan owned oil company CITGO operates eight refineries in the USA and franchises out 14,000 gas stations; the first cheap gas pilot project will start in La Villita in Chicago next month. The 900,000 residents in the mostly Latin neighborhood will get oil below the rate set by the Arab-dominated OPEC cartel for hospitals, schools and nursing homes.

But Chavez thinks people pay too much for computers. A state-owned joint venture with the Chinese hardware firm Lang Chao, Technological Industries of Venezuela (TIV) will produce PCs costing between $327 and $363, according to the President.

Chavez calls them "bolviarian computers", after El Libertador Simón Bolívar, reports the Wall Street Journal. Eventually, TIV will produce notebooks and cellphones, too, said Chavez.

All good for the local economy, no doubt. China is making great strides producing its own desktop CPU, DVD format, DSP, and 3G standard TD-SCDMA. When that all clicks, domestic manufacturers may feel the squeeze.

Venezuela is the fifth largest oil producer in the world. It now plans to ship up to 150,000 PCs per year, as well.®

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