VENEZUELA: The Common Good

The top politicians of Venezuela took to TV last week and made note of a heartening accomplishment: in the year since President Rómulo Betancourt, 51, was elected, the country has for the first time in history had a functioning constitutional democracy under popularly chosen leaders and with full freedoms.

As befits a nation ruled through most of its 130 years by dictators, the transition was made with the aid of a crutch: a pre-election agreement among the major parties that whichever won would take the others into coalition government. At last week's celebration,...

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