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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 07:40 GMT
In pictures: Venezuela's informal economy

Stall in Sabana Grande, Caracas

About half of Venezuela's workforce is estimated to operate in the informal economy - many are street vendors, or "buhoneros". They do not pay national insurance or have social security, and are not counted in unemployment figures.

Jeans for sale in Sabana Grande, Caracas

Street trading has soared in recent years, analysts say, because the buhoneros feel protected by the government. Many street vendors say that "proper jobs" are scarce and this is the only way to feed their families.

Toy stall

The streets are expected to become even more crowded in December with vendors competing for the attention of Christmas shoppers.

Phone stall in Caracas

In recent times "phone stalls" have sprung up across the country's cities. All that is needed is a number of pay-as-you-go mobiles (often chained to a table) and chairs. Some also sell phone accessories, cigarettes and sweets.

Mototaxis

Another recent phenomenon is the appearance of "mototaxis", a popular way to beat the traffic jams. Some operate formally as mini-cab firms. Others are just run by individuals who stick a sign on their motorbikes and take passengers.

Bananas on sale in Petare, Caracas

Food is easy to buy on the streets. Fresh fruit and vegetables are on sale...

Plantains being cooked on a Caracas street

... as well as local dishes, such as fried plantain, for those who want a meal on the go.





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