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  #21  
Old 07-07-2006, 10:04 AM
markoci markoci is offline
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Default Re: Why should we visit Myanmar

very tough question.. just my own two cents worth..

i don't believe in sanctions, embargos, i don't believe in "the worse the better"..

i wasn't sure until i actually visited myanmar, but based on my (very subjective) experiences i drew the above conclusion...

sanctions in the long term may work but can that justify the death/mysery of even one innocent individual? call me idealistic but i haven't met a single person in the country who said tourists should stop coming, it will be better for us.. were they all beneficiaries of the system? i don't know.. only spent a month there backpacking, trying to avoid government interests.. international restrictons have been in effect for a long time, has it been for the better or the worse for the average person? i can't say it's the former...
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  #22  
Old 07-07-2006, 01:46 PM
sengir sengir is offline
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Default Re: Why should we not visit Myanmar?

Hi Francis,
I'm not the expert, I haven't been to neither N.Korea nor Burma, but I think that level of oppresion in N.Korea is hard to be beaten.
You're probably right that Burma is more interesting as a country than N.Korea, but still - in Burma you can travel around at least partially independent. And in N.Korea you have your official "guide" all the time, taking care of what you can see or do.
About money - you're probably right about most of the tourist money getting finally into the hands of junta-related people, but I doubt if stopping this slight flow will help anyhow - as once told polish government representative (during dark communist times) - "the government will feed itself". As someone already told, the real source of money in Burma are drugs, timber and diamonds. Tourism money is just the cherry on the cake.
On the other hand, maybe this so called "responsible tourism" can help in breaking the isolation of burmanese people. They have no other ways of accessing outside world (it's not Iran with easily accessible Internet and illegal satelites in every house), and isolating them completely can lead to situation like in quoted N. Korea - brainwashed society. Of course I don't overestimate the possible effect of such tourist visits, it's probably low, but still it may exists. And maybe at least in areas where tourists come the government must be more carefull about it's actions.
And I know that for my parents, as well as for many other people, contacts with people from this "filthy West" was, let say, refreshing.
To summarize, I think that impact of individual tourism is rather neglectable, neither much good nor much bad will it cause.
What would matter is if Burma was a target of mass, organised tourism - this could have much stronger influence (as everywhere organised tourism has, contrary to individual backpacking, very strong impact), as it's the source of real income, and with mass tourism there's no place for contacts with people - so only evil and no good. :)
Regards,
Antek
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  #23  
Old 07-07-2006, 02:21 PM
adam_k adam_k is offline
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Default Re: Why should we not visit Myanmar?

I wouldn't condemn organized tourism so much... There is at least one good side of it: it gives employment to local people...
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  #24  
Old 07-07-2006, 10:30 PM
kinginexile kinginexile is offline
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Default Re: Why should we visit Myanmar

Just of note, Mark, there has not been stringent restrictions on Burma, no embargo. There are many european businesses (such as TOTAL, the huge french M-national) doing business there. The US does have a policy of forbidding US companies to do business there, but Europe and Asian countries are not curbing anyone. Only a sense of moral duty, possibly under people-power pressure (as happened with a german Co not long ago), may keep some from going ahead. for the French, Monsieur Kouchner, paid to give his opinion by Total, saw nothing wrong with human rights, well.... Anywhere near Total is planning to construct a gas line. Thank God! (smirk!)

A tourist embargo would be meaningless. the junta could have suffocated from a tight one when they were completely bankrupt, with the chinese co-erced into letting go (very important), but that was years ago. that's my opinion, either we can completely dry out and isolate the junta, or there is no point. When I went there 2 years ago, I got the feeling private entreprise did not seem too held on a leash, and outside money was flowing into regions that attained some economic autonomy, after peace was signed with local rebel armies. It even seemed a faction of the junta could heed counsel from outside their lunatic imaginations. It seemed natural that finally, things start moving, even slowly, as it did everywhere, save North Korea.

But it all seems the same as before, for the vast majority of burmese. Crazed out, mythomaniac paranoid rulers, and no rule of law to speak of. i am like Francis and Kevin, It is kind of selfish to go shoot smiling kids and monks, with the disingenuous, or facile good conscience that we are helping by having a few dollars change hands, when nothing is changing.

You mention not hearing anyone tell you tourism is bad. Of course, why would they? But what you may hear is that IF tourist did not come, they would do with it. I believe the most political opponents are for a boycott.

Apart from what you did not hear, so... Did people tell you the tourist dollars have changed their lives?
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  #25  
Old 07-07-2006, 11:06 PM
kinginexile kinginexile is offline
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Default Re: Why should we not visit Myanmar?

acceptable, sure, just as the Ukrainian elections were, if indeed the international community had wanted to let go. I wonder how Hun Sen's opponents were able to conduct a fair campaigning prior to them. the only way Hun Sen can stay in power is by harrasing and silencing by many different means, his opposition. After that, the elections can happen legitimately ;-)...

But our points are the same, I am just a bit more miffed by the silence and hypocrisy about the abysmal state of Cambodian people, the excuses and pretext that since Pol Pot ruled some 30 years ago, having a destitute school, a rice soup in their hands, is better already. How much longer will it be better? 50, 100 years? How come people close to the power are making millions if the country is still sluggishly coming out of Pol Pot rule?

I wish we could pressure the burmese or cambodians as much as Bush and Co, are being pressured on Guantanamo.

BTW, when are the leections again in Thailand. As you know, I have to replace the photo-essay of the last ones.

H
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  #26  
Old 07-08-2006, 10:34 PM
rbcy1974 rbcy1974 is offline
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Default Re: Why should we not visit Myanmar?

I went to Burma in 2004. I remember reading that just as Aung San Suu Kyi exhorted people not to go to Burma, other prominent opposition figures disagreed with her due to the argument that eventually trhough contact with outsiders, things may start to change.

Earlier that same year, I went to Cuba. I was really shocked that Lonely Planet posted a "should you go to burma section" but not a "should you go to cuba section".

I do find that these types of stances are hypocritical. Tina, I think your best argument to your boss would be: "Well we do sell packages to Cuba, how is that any different" (assuming that you do sell packages to Cuba)

For Kevin, if you think that Fidel is widely loved in Cuba or has held free elections, I urge you to visit CUba. Anyways, unfortunately I wasnt able to get a feel for people's opinion in Burma as I dont speak Burmese, but I was able to get a big insight into Cuba through the many people I met and visited, and I cant ell you I dont think is any better than Burma, so why are people flocking to Cuba by the millions without ever raising any questions about it?

Just my two cents worth.
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  #27  
Old 07-09-2006, 01:31 AM
kinginexile kinginexile is offline
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Default Re: Why should we not visit Myanmar?

all with you on that, Daniel. I still do not understand all this romantism surrounding Castro, and Guevara. Both were and are cold blood killers, but magnificent propaganda experts and media leeches, of course. I'd say, to stay on "TE-opic", here is a case where photography has paid a disservice to truth, because if some guys have been enlarged larger than size thru imagery, these 2 really are.

2 more cents in my worth bocal...;-)
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  #28  
Old 07-09-2006, 12:39 PM
markoci markoci is offline
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Default Re: Why should we visit Myanmar

But what you may hear is that IF tourist did not come, they would do with it."..

can you elaborate on this? not sure i understand what you mean...

Did people tell you the tourist dollars have changed their lives?..

changed? depends on your definition of change.. how many people's? saying very few is an understatement for sure. made it better? a drop in a bucket. but to think that a boycott on tourism would make any difference sounds just as idealistic to me, so why deprive those few who do benefit from it? more severe economic sanctions or a full boycot may work in the long run, i'd certainly would not wish the people to pay the price that iraqis and north koreans have payed/are paying..

there's of course also the argument that those who visit may (if not influence but at least) monitor or report back on the situation to some degree. even more important imo though is the flow of information, the exhange of ideas with foreigners. some of the best times i had were (the often) very passionate discussions and conversations i had with people, mostly young monks and students. the hunger for information seemed insatiable. the most prized gifts are foreign books and magazines, i really wish i brought more..

anyways a tough question, just want to reiterate my sentiments and the answers i got from locals to the question whether tourists should come.
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  #29  
Old 07-09-2006, 04:02 PM
Curioso Curioso is offline
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Default Re: Why should we visit Myanmar

I went there last March for almostfour weeks (Rangoon, Inle, West beaches, Hills of the Golden triangle, Mandalay, Bagan...).

I had as little as four political conversations during that time and am really convinced there is a bad regime heading the country. I feel that the situation is quite badfor people wanting to study, involve themselves in journalism, sharing ideas, "intellectual people" broadly speaking. I felt that other people had no everyday contact with the regime due to their rural way of living.

So I really felt connected with people who were so kind and incredibly nice. When I'm going to travel somewhere, I don't mean to criticize the regime, I go there to meet people and possibly to help them by buying few items I'm interested in. As a traveller, I do feel that I made a small contribution to help some of the people I met by sharing ideas, my way of leaving and express some kindness.

In my opinion, boycotting a country will NEVER help him. I worked in Angola and spent some time in few dictatorship and I can swear that the only people who suffer from bad conditions due to the lack of economic perspectives is the youth and NEVER the political leaders who have plenty of ressources.

For instance, I met a young clever guide in Kyaing Tung who made my wife and I discover incredibly nice and interesting tribes from the Golden Triange. I can swear he was probably sad to not be able working abroad or teaching all the subject he wanted at University. BUT, I'm sure his life would have been pretty worse if he couldn't met foreign people because of Boycott. It would be the end of his attempt to share the local culture to foreish people, the end of his attempts to save the Shan litterature because of the lack of money so he probably would have to work in the fields or in a garage earning his living...

I do hate BOYCOTTING. It's a shame to leave people alone when they need support. Ok, it will lead to some NGO having brand new 4WD or some companies making huge money alone. But I do prefer that and getting sure that local people have positive perspectives for their future. Ok, I would prefer the dictatorshop fall down, but in the meantime, how do those people work, study, have hope if you offer them nothing but sympathy from abroad. Let's get to the field and talk to these people !!!

This is my personnal feeling after few years having met poor places. Just like I consider stupid to bring candies or pens to kids in Morroco. It's too easy to share this instead of trying to speak and eventually explain that life becomes better when you try to study or work. Let's motivate people instead of assisting them ! It's far more precious - I believe - to spend time with them and take time to exchange point of view rather than crying on one's rich corner of the world...

Have a nice day !

Steven
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  #30  
Old 07-09-2006, 07:08 PM
kevinos kevinos is offline
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Default Re: Why should we not visit Myanmar?

To answer Daniel Point. Most people in touch with Cuba and Cubans, I believe, (other than supporters of the ousted fascist regime) would say the same. Cubans donít give a damn for communism, but they love Fidel, as a heroic symbol of their resistance to American hegemony. Unlike the rulers of Burma and the Batista regime, before him, he does not exploit his people for his own gain. He has built up a popular educational system and a health service, for example, that are second to none in the region. The Burmese would love some of that! Cuba is a pariah sate, not like N. Korea and Burma, because they have chosen to be, but because this has been forced on them by the USA. Thus we should visit Cuba to support freedom and not visit Burma for the same reason.
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