Venezuela No Time for Colonels

A coup fails when civilians prove unwilling to trade their government, however flawed, for a military dictatorship

In the darkness just before midnight, columns of tanks and troop carriers rumbled into the streets of four Venezuelan cities last week, intent on overthrowing the civilian government. Paratroops and armored units in Caracas, the capital, converged on a nearby air base, the Miraflores presidential palace and La Casona, the official residence of President Carlos Andres Perez.

But the target of the coup had already left his house and slipped through a secret tunnel into the white, hilltop Miraflores palace in the center of the city. Miraflores offered him no security, however, for tanks lined the surrounding streets and the rebels...

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