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The mounting political tension culminates in a military coup. Aware of what is about to happen, The president calls his closest friends around him, including Jaime. The military forces attack. They kill the president and arrest Jaime. Because of his family position and his profession, Jaime is offered the possibility of renouncing his political views in return for his freedom, but Jaime refuses. He is killed. Esteban, unaware of Jaime's fate, celebrates the coup. Despite a few concerns he has at not being immediately reinstated in the Senate, Esteban tries to believe that there will be only a brief period of dictatorship after which power will be returned to his conservative cronies. Miguel takes leave of Alba and joins the guerrillas.

On the day of the coup, Pedro Tercero comes to the house in secret and asks for Blanca's help. She hides him in one of the back rooms of the house, telling no one. For several months, she keeps him hidden there. They renew their love with great intensity, but Pedro Tercero begins to go stir crazy.

The stores are flooded with all of the merchandise that was missing during the Socialist rule, but prices have risen enormously. The poor and even the middle classes are offered no relief. Walls are built around the poor areas of the city, and the wealthy areas are kept bright and beautiful so that the rich residents and tourists don't have to know about the rest of the population. The military regime only becomes more openly fascist. They shut down schools and censor all forms of expression. Detractors from the regime are killed or disappeared. Alba does what she can clandestinely to help feed the poor and to sneak political dissidents into foreign embassies so that they can escape the country. Amanda puts Alba in contact with priests who conduct similar work.

Esteban goes to reclaim Tres Marias. He dismisses all of the peasants and burns their buildings to the ground. At a point too late to effect any difference, he realizes that he has hurt himself the most. He invites the peasants back, but they refuse. Esteban returns to the city.

The Poet dies. There is a momentary popular surge of mourning at his death, but the military regime soon quells it.

Blanca tells Esteban and Alba that she has been hiding Pedro Tercero in the house since the coup and asks for their help. Esteban calls on an old friend of his who works for one of the embassies. Esteban himself leads Pedro Tercero out of his hiding, and the two men reconcile. Blanca finally decides to live with Pedro Tercero. The two of them enter the embassy of the Vatican together, and flee to Canada.