Reporters on the Job

CONTINUING SUPPORT: Reporter Rachel Van Dongen was impressed by the unfailing optimism of Yolanda Pinto de Gaviria, wife of the now-deceased governor of Antioquia, Colombia (page 7).

"I spoke with her just last week and she was in high spirits, having come to Bogotá to attend a forum sponsored by four former Colombian presidents pushing for a humanitarian accord that would swap hostages - including her husband - for jailed leftist guerrillas."

Ms. Pinto's husband had been kidnapped by members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) at a peace rally a year ago. On Monday, he died in a botched rescue attempt.

"Amazingly, Pinto continued to exude optimism in memorial services this week, pardoning the guerrillas who killed her husband and begging for a humanitarian accord that would bring other people's husbands home," says Rachel.

NEW TROOPS IN TOWN : Ten days ago, The Monitor's Peter Ford rounded a corner on the way to the Hotel Sinbad where Iraqi political leaders are meeting to form a new government (page 1). He suddenly found himself face to face with dozens of smartly turned out soldiers in new camouflage uniforms and purple berets.

"I asked a nearby American soldier who they were. He responded: 'Good question. We came around the corner ourselves and saw five technicals [pickup trucks with mounted machine guns] and thought they were bad guys.'

Peter approached the bereted soldiers and was told they were special forces of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), assigned to protect their leader, Masoud Barzani. They had just arrived in Baghdad in a 200-vehicle convoy from Kurdish northern Iraq. "I wish someone had told us they were coming," said the US soldier when Peter relayed the news.

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot
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