Venezuela: Troubleshooter

When Venezuela's President Rómulo Betancourt leaned forward to embrace visiting Argentine President Arturo Frondizi in Caracas, one photographer captured the scene from an opportune angle. There, jutting out of Betancourt's pocket, was a pistol butt. The picture raised questions of why a head of state should pack his own pistol. But in Latin America, where the bullet is often more decisive than the ballot, no politician has a better right to fulltime self-protection than Venezuela's embattled chief executive.

As a fiery revolutionary in his youth, Betancourt won the undying hatred of many...

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