The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Times Pulitzer Prize winner gets virtual hug from president of Guatemala

April 20, 2011 |  3:18 pm

AlvaroColom Winning a Pulitzer Prize can bring some unexpected surprises. Just ask Ruben Vives, who, along with Jeff Gottlieb, was honored Monday for leading the Los Angeles Times’ coverage of fraud and political corruption in the city of Bell.

Vives was at his desk at the Times on Wednesday when the president of his native Guatemala called to offer his congratulations on the Pulitzer for Public Service.

“I just wanted to call you and personally congratulate you,” Vives said President Alvaro Colom told him. “I can’t tell you how wonderful this is. I made a radio statement yesterday and told all Guatemalans about your big accomplishment in the U.S. and that it was a great day for Guatemala.”

Vives was born in Guatemala and spent the first five years of his life there before his grandmother brought him to Southern California. He grew up in Echo Park and Whittier, as recounted in my "On the Media" column Wednesday.

The president told the reporter he had read about The Times' Pulitzer win in the newspaper Prensa Libre. Colom said he planned to be in Los Angeles soon. He offered to take Vives to dinner. “We’re all so proud of you here,” Colom said. “I’m sending you a big hug.”

-- James Rainey

Twitter: latimesrainey

Photo: Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom was among those offering congratulations to Ruben Vives of The Times for winning the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Credit: Johan Ordonez / AFP/Getty Images