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Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 12:32 GMT
Chavez doll craze hits Venezuela
By Greg Morsbach
BBC News, Caracas

A man holds a the Chavez doll
Some shops are reportedly running out of the Chavecitos
One of the presents most likely to be found under the Christmas tree this year in Venezuela is a mini-version of the left-wing President Hugo Chavez.

The little Chavez - or Chavecito - has the president's trademark red army beret and his military boots, and even its own political catchphrase.

In a country that is split into those for and against the president, the toy is causing a stir.

The dolls have turned many a toy shop into a goldmine.

"In just a few weeks, we sold 1,500 of these dolls. That's about 20 dolls a day," says Douglas Bustamante, one of the store owners in the capital, Caracas.

He says that the 60cm-tall toys are selling faster than he can re-stock them.

The mini-version of President Chavez also has its own catchphrase: "I arrived here to do all humanly possible to help all the Venezuelan people."

The little Chavez is being snapped up by old and young alike, not just by the president's supporters. Some people opposed to him see the funny side.

Mr Chavez has said nothing so far on the issue.

But maybe the Chavecito will find its way into the presidential palace in time for Christmas.

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