VENEZUELA: The Worthless Promise

The conservative, landholding Arcaya family of Venezuela dates back more than four centuries; historians have called their original family seat, a fine colonial residence in Coro, the oldest two-story house in the hemisphere. Snowy-haired patriarch of the family is Pedro Manuel Arcaya, onetime minister to Washington, who at 82 still works in his famed private library (150,000 volumes in ten languages). His sons and nephews are lawyers or professional men, trained in the universities of Spain, Venezuela and the U.S.; his daughters and niece are society figures. One of the lawyers, nephew Ignacio, is...