Coup Plots Ruined Marriage Venezuela's First Lady Says

Article excerpt

THE FORMER US president Jimmy Carter has been summoned to help promote talks between the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, and the opposition amid rumours that the military will again try to unseat him. But the feisty leftist, who was overthrown for 30 hours in a coup in April, is also in need of mediation on the personal front. His wife has publicly demanded a divorce.

Marisabel Rodriguez de Chavez has complained in a newspaper interview that presidential power has altered her husband. After five years together, she claims their friends and surroundings have drastically changed and mutual attraction has declined to a "personality clash".

Mrs Chavez is also fed up with the incessant street marches by her husband's supporters and detractors which wind up outside Miraflores, the presidential palace. Not all end in bloodshed, as did the clash in April in which 17 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded, but the noise and the shouted insults grate on her nerves. "We've had to run away three times, practically with our possessions tied into a bundle and hanging from a stick," she said. "That isn't a life for anyone."

While her husband was held prisoner by dissident military officers, Mrs Chavez spread the word by mobile phone that the he had refused to sign a resignation. …