Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In the Secret City (audio)

NPR, All Things Considered, Nov. 18, 2011
Postcard: Naypyidaw, the police state capital built from scratch (

President Obama says his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Burma (aka Myanmar) next month, the first such visit in half a century. Relations between the U.S. and Burma have been strained during years of rule by a secretive military junta [full blown dictatorship], but its new president has started a process of reform that the U.S. wants to encourage.

So there's been some change in Myanmar, but its leaders still haven't abandoned one tendency of dictators: building monuments to themselves. Myanmar's aging Senior General Than Shwe has built a whole new capital city from scratch, carved out of the jungle.

We're going to hear now from a reporter who visited the city called Naypyidaw. It's a place foreigners were only recently allowed to visit, and foreign reporters are not welcome, which is why we're not giving his name.

The newest and nicest road in Myanmar is paradoxically one of the emptiest as well, [with] only a handful of cars on a desolate four lane highway to nowhere, or so it seems, a place very few people go willingly. More

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