I have recently discovered a fascinating article by foreign service agent Russ Olson - who was working in Caracas during VP Nixon's visit. In it, he discusses how the hostile mob forced the VP away from the planed assassination point!
Nixon knew full well he was going to face trouble in Caracas. The only question was how serious it would be. Deputy Under Secretary Murphy subsequently told the Senators, "Three reports of possible assassination attempts were forwarded to the Vice President and the matter was made public by the Secret Service on the eve of the Vice President's departure from Colombia for Caracas." If that weren't enough warning, he had CIA and other reports and he also had it first hand from Chuck Burrows, the Embassy's Deputy Chief of Mission, who had flown to Bogot[a] to accompany (and brief) the Vice President to Caracas. Burrows laid out the problem. In his book, Nixon claimed he had been misled, that security had been inadequately arranged by the Venezuelans. The root of the problem was neither the Embassy (which had suggested as strongly as it could that he not come) nor the Venezuelan security measures. The real problem was Nixon's insistence on keeping the military at arm's length in order to avoid adverse impact on the American media. He later claimed that the Venezuelan police did nothing to protect him - and he was absolutely correct. During the January revolution, less than five months before, the people had turned on all aspects of the vicious dictatorship, including the police, most of whom escaped only by burning their uniforms and disappearing from their home neighborhoods. Consequently, the police, when Nixon came, were both green and well aware of the public's attitude towards the uniforms. They weren't about to fight people in the streets. The only respected forces, the Navy, the Air Force and the National Guard (but not the Army, which had stood by Perez Jimenez until the last moment) could have protected the Nixons easily if only he had let them.
With that background, the Nixon party flew into Maiquetia airport on the morning of May 13 (maybe the date was the problem?). The Vice President, in a dark blue suit, and Mrs. Nixon, in a red suit and hat, stepped from the US Air Force DC-6 with its red, white and blue propeller tips, to face the usual group of dignitaries lined up along the traditional red carpet in order of protocol. The waves and broad smiles of the Nixons quickly disappeared as they saw the hostile crowd on the balcony of the terminal and along their path. By the time they reached the bottom of the plane's steps, a very grim Vice President and lady stepped onto the tarmac, hearing anti-Nixon shouts and looking at banners reading, "Go home, Nixon," "Go away, Nixon," "Out, dog," "We won't forget Guatemala" (a reference to the ouster of the left-wing Arbenz regime in Guatemala with US assistance), etc.
At Venezuelan insistence, the motorcade was parked in front of the terminal. Consequently the Vice President's party had to walk under the balcony from which hundreds of people were spitting down on us, through the terminal and out to the front. We were spat upon all the way out to the cars and literally had to shove people aside to get the Vice President inside. We thought the worst was over. It wasn't.
The motorcade was "buzzed" by cars on the highway up to the city. Ironically, Communist propaganda had been so effective that a group (mob would be a better word) of teenage kids and their organizers attacked us as we entered the city streets. That point could have been catastrophic, and it did get bad enough that one of the Secret Service men drew his gun. Had he fired, the mob might have become incensed enough to have really gone after us. However, a decision was made to run for it directly to the American Ambassador's residence, where the Nixons holed up for the rest of their visit. American troops, drawn from the Embassy Marine guards and the US Military Mission, came to stand guard at the residence for the duration of the visit. No one knew what to expect but no attack ever materialized at the residence, a lovely home on a hilltop in a suburban neighborhood and an area too far to walk from any public transport, a key factor. Years in Latin America have convinced me that Latin revolutionaries, rioters and the like, will risk being beaten, shot, and even tortured but they will neither walk very far nor stay out in the streets and get wet if it rains. In any event, Nixon was safe for the moment.
The decision to flee to the security of the residence saved the Nixons' lives and ours. Unknown to those of us in the motorcade, several of our people waiting at the National Pantheon with the wreaths Nixon was to have laid at the tomb of Simon Bolivar, were attacked by a mob. The commander of the Venezuelan Honor Guard there called for help. When the troops moved in they picked up over two hundred Communists with Molotov cocktails. Had the motorcade of big Cadillac's turned into that area of the old city with its very narrow streets, we would have been burned to death. That mob of kids had saved us from the professionals.
Once we were settled in the residence, I went outside for some air and happened to look at the car. It was hard to believe that that black Cadillac with diplomatic license plates 63-CD had borne the Vice President of the United States. The rear windows were shattered, sputum was all over it and the windshield was just a white smear as the driver had tried to remove the spit with the wipers. It was difficult at that moment not to hate Venezuelans.
You have to give Richard Nixon credit. He and his wife had gone through a harrowing experience. Yet, shortly after arriving at the residence he held a press conference on the veranda. Col. Vernon Walters (later lieutenant general and Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency) interpreted for him. He was completely composed and in control, said all the right things and handled himself magnificently.
How stupid are communists? seriously!
So, because of the communist's own stupidity in Venezuela, Nixon lived to fight another day. And when it was his tern, he hit back hard, supporting the removal their greatest ally and foiling their plot, which is revealed in a March 1973 KGB memo (stolen from the KGB archives and recently transcribed in a book):
In the near future the President [of Chile] will be able to send his emissary to Venezuela for the purpose of ascertaining the situation in that country on the eve of the presidential elections coming up in November of this year. Amoung his trusted personal contacts, Allende named [Luis] Beltran Prieto [Figueroa], the leader of the progressive [marxist] Venezuela party called the People's Election Movement [Movimento Electoral del Pueblo].
So Mr. President, what are ya' gonna do?