Today's Story Line

There's another deadline approaching in the Middle East. Nov. 15 is the date set for Palestinian leaders to decide whether to declare statehood. If done, it would be a defiant move, a line in the sand. Diplomats describe it - and the Israeli policy of separatism - as "unilateralism." Each side does as it pleases. The result may be further escalation of the conflict.

Sending a son or daughter to war is never easy. But in Colombia, rural parents face the prospect of losing children as young as age 10 to forced recruiting. How one village fought back.

David Clark Scott World editor


A FATHER IN A WAR ZONE: It took four hours on the back of a motorcycle and two hours of hiking over rough terrain for the Monitor's Howard LaFranchi to reach the Colombian town of Ortega for today's story. He and his hired guide stayed overnight with a family. At first, the villagers were reluctant to talk to a stranger arriving at dusk. Eventually Howard met a woman who was willing to talk, and she introduced him to others. But Howard says it is the face of a young guerrilla boy he saw later that sticks most in his mind.

"We were on our way out on the little Suzuki and under a pouring rain when we came upon about 150 of the guerrillas so feared by the villagers we had just left," Howard says. "My guide was nervous riding with a gringo, but I told him to just proceed slowly." Most of the fighters were young kids, wet and cold and holding big weapons. "Then I looked directly into the eyes of one boy, and I felt like I was having a "400 Blows" experience. In the classic Francois Truffaut movie, there's a famous freeze frame where you look straight into the eyes of the young Antoine Doinel and see all the pain and fear built up inside. That's what I saw in those eyes. As the father of two small boys, I wanted to somehow give him the comfort I know boys need. I still think of him."

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