Reporters on the Job

Cultural snapshot

• DINNER WITH A CRITIC: Uzbekistan's authoritarian regime may be becoming more open, thanks to post-Sept 11 changes – and America's new focus on that Central Asian ally.

But Scott Peterson found that people have long memories when it comes to challenging the status quo. After he interviewed an opposition source over dinner, the source was stopped by the owner of the restaurant.

"I remember seeing you 13 years ago on television, arguing with the president," the man said, wide-eyed, to Scott's source, who nodded that it was true. "I thought you were in jail," he added, causing both men to laugh out loud.

• SMALL FISH FRY: Most Mexicans want to see government officials explore their country's dark past, as other Latin American nations have done. But in a country where the bulk of the population is less than 25 years old, it's hard to find much angry passion toward a man who hasn't been in office for more than 30 years, says reporter Gretchen Peters.

And Gretchen didn't find much outside the office where, this week, President Luis Echeverría was giving testimony about the students killed during a political protest in 1968 this week (this page). She found only a small crowd of about 12 protesters from the "Committee of '68." Mexican political protest rallies generally draw thousands.

" 'I suppose it is important,' the taxi driver told me as we sped away," says Gretchen. " 'But the real issues these days are bringing down gas prices and reducing our licensing fees.' "

To divert attention from the economic challenges, one analyst told Gretchen that Mexico's President Vicente Fox is looking for a big fish to fry. "But Echeverría is at best a trout."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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