Sounds like something you might hear if you travel to North Korea or another country with a repressive dictatorship. However, this is now the case in a country that has been fairly popular with travelers; Ethiopia. Ever since opening an account back in 2006, we have enjoyed using Skype to stay in contact with friends and family around the world and as communications technology has continued to advance, more and more people are connecting with one other and doing so with relative ease. To officials in Ethiopia though, this is a problem severe enough to warrant a 15 year jail sentence. That’s right. In essence, the Ethiopian government has banned the use of Skype within the country, although a government spokesman told the BBC that using Skype is not illegal, but making unauthorized calls on Skype is, whatever that means.
May 1st, otherwise known as May Day or International Worker’s Day. May Day celebrations take on different shapes, sizes and forms around the world but to most people, when someone mentions its May Day, at least to those who have heard of it before, images of large, left-wing, Marxist rallies in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and in modern day communist countries or those heavily influenced by socialism typically come to mind. While Map Day is a celebration of the international labor movement and causes typically associated with far left leaning governments, May Day has spread and is a recognized national holiday in more than 80 countries and actually began as a commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago. Still, I can’t help but associate May Day with hard core communism and no place is more hard core when it comes to communism than North Korea. Here at the World by Road Collective, we have long been fascinated by North Korea; in part because of what we do know about this reclusive country, but even more so by what we don’t know about it.
Muammar Gaddafi waves goodbye (photo from PressTV)
2011 was a year of unprecedented change around the world. Grassroots protests topped longstanding dictatorships while others succumbed to natural causes. Time magazine selected The Protester as its person of the year for 2011 and with all the change protesters helped bring about in the world in 2011, 2012 is shaping up to be a year for travelers. In 2008, The World by Road was stopped dead in its tracks; barred entry to Libya because we were Americans. Three years later, the Arab Spring saw the forced resignations of long serving authoritarians in Tunisia and Egypt. Libya’s Col. Muammar Gaddafi didn’t go as willingly and was later captured and killed by rebel forces ending a bloody six month civil war. Protests have also gained momentum in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and most recently Russia, and if the events of North Africa are any indication, change is on the horizon in those countries as well.