VENEZUELA: Out of Pocket

When President Juan Vicente Gómez died in 1935, after 27 years as dictator of oil-rich Venezuela, he was worth millions. Last week, Rómulo Betancourt, who had just turned over the presidency to Novelist Rómulo Gallegos (TIME, Feb. 23) after two years in office, was almost broke.

Betancourt, whose salary was $1,200 a month, went before a federal judge to declare his financial condition, as now legally required of retiring presidents. He began: "I, Rómulo Betancourt, newspaperman; declare under oath that I possess no real-estate assets of any kind." Then he listed everything he owned: a few shares in the newspaper...

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