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By , World editor of The Christian Science Monitor

The year-end holidays are a time to appreciate people who preserve traditions for future generations. One example is the tale of a woman who eluded Soviet officials for decades and copied rare Byzantine church art before much of it was lost. (We ran a similar story on Dec. 24 about a Czech woodcarver.)

Nearly a decade after winning the cold war, the West - or more specifically NATO - is still debating how much it should enforce "universal" principles in the world. One example: NATO's problems in capturing war-crimes suspects in Bosnia.

Latin America's return to democracy in the 1980s didn't mean there was a clean break with its militaristic past. In Peru, which has had to fight two leftist guerrilla groups, the military's heavy hand can still be seen in cases of enforced conscription.

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In fact, a recent downturn in Latin America's markets has brought a nostalgia for the days of dictatorial economics. Quote of note: "Freedom always brings with it some problems and awakens some fears. But with experience and foresight most people realize they're better off with it." - Chilean banker Antonio Recabarren.

It's sometimes dangerous to generalize about Latin America. We were reminded of that by one of our photo editors, Venezuela-born Alfredo Sosa. When asked to recommend a Latin American movie, he responded: "The problem with your request is that contrary to general perception here in the States, Latin America is not very unified culturally. Yes, we speak the same language and share a lot of historical background, but each society seems to have isolated itself from the rest. My own experience is a perfect example of this: While having traveled to several countries, I have never visited another Latin American city. Therefore there aren't many common denominators when it comes to a classic movie. There are great Spanish-language filmmakers whose movies would make a good present. I especially recommend 'Carmen' by Carlos Saura (made at least 15 years ago) because it combines singing, dancing, and dialogue. It is a movie version of the opera (in present time) and therefore can be followed by people who may miss some of the dialogue. (Like the opera, it contains violence, sex, and the addiction of alcohol.)"

Clayton Jones

World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB...

IN THE LINE OF DUTY: In 1998, 49 journalists and one photographer were slain, according to the International Federation of Journalists. The highest death rate was in Colombia, where 10 journalists were killed in 1998, followed by Mexico and Russia, where six and five journalists were slain, respectively. Last year, as in 1996, 47 journalists were killed in the world.

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