The Berlin Wall fell 24 years ago. Just two short years later, the Soviet Empire collapsed. Yet communist parties still rule five nations—North Korea, Cuba, China, Laos, and Vietnam.
These vestigial regimes may not be long for this world. China and Vietnam have already transitioned half-way to something else. But the other three are living museum pieces, frozen in the brutal mid-20th century when totalitarianism held sway over whole swaths of the planet.
I intend to visit them all. I’ll have enough material for another book at the end.
Cuba is first. Traveling there is banned for most Americans under the Trading with the Enemy Act, but journalists are exempt. Scrutiny from abroad is always bad for police states.
Working as a journalist in unfree countries is tricky, but I’ve poked around under the noses of dictators in the past and I know the workarounds.
Fidel Castro retired. He isn’t likely to last very much longer. His brother Raul took his place, but he’s only a couple years younger. Big changes might be coming to the island and fast. No one can know for sure, but I’m going over there to take a look and report on what things are like now.
My first-person narrative dispatches from Middle Eastern countries at war and in the throes of revolution garnered me three blogging awards and a book prize from the Washington Institute.
I’ve published four books so far, and my best-seller is Where the West Ends, a fusion of travel writing, journalism, and history in post-communist Eastern Europe and Western Asia. But I still work as a freelancer. I don’t have a salary, let alone a travel expense account.
That’s where you come in. Fund my next trip—to Cuba this fall—so I can produce a brand-new batch of first-person narrative dispatches. You can follow along as I publish them on my blog. And at the end of the project, I’ll publish all my material as a dispatch pack—including full-color photographs—that you can read on your iPad, your Kindle, or any other tablet or reading device. And if you don’t have a tablet or reading device, you can just read them on your computer. Generous backers will receive public thank-yous from me, on my blog and in the dispatch pack when it’s published.
I’m not asking you for donations. I’m asking you to participate and will give you something back in return. Let’s go to Cuba.
Risks and challenges
There's always a chance the Cubans won't give me a visa, but I know plenty of critical journalists who have been there repeatedly and none of them have had a problem, so I doubt this will actually be an issue.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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