VENEZUELA: Showdown for Extremists

Venezuela came alarmingly close to mob rule last week as ambitious leftist politicians dreamed up an army plot and then loudly put it down with windy proclamations, mass rallies and a general strike. Through three days of crisis, the booming Communist Party played a talented leading role. But conservative military leaders with no plot in mind, kept their tempers down and their tanks in camp and avoided civil war.

The military, though not ready to march, is plainly unhappy about the Communist-coddling tactics of one of the military's own: Rear Admiral Wolfgang Larrazábal, chief of the country's ruling junta,...

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