President Barack Obama was in Burma on Monday on an historic visit for an American president. Obama’s visit is the first for a U.S. president and comes after a decades-long brutal grip by the regime has been loosened on the nation creating rapid change over the last two years.
Part but not the entire brutal regime has been dismantled, but censorship has been eased, a number of political prisoners have been freed and an election was held which resulted in politicians from the opposition entering the parliament.
Nevertheless, problems remain and many human rights activists have criticized the president for traveling to the country saying it still is too soon. Nevertheless, aides to the president argued that if the U.S. engages more fully with Myanmar then even more reform would be encouraged.
Included in Obama’s visit was time spent with Aung San Suu Kyi the veteran campaigner for democracy. The two met at the stucco house where she spent almost 20 years under house arrest before being released nearly two years ago.
Obama in his speech in Myanmar said he was living up to his 2009 inauguration pledge to reach out to governments that have ruled by fear if they wanted to unclench their tight grips on their nations.
Just over the past couple of years, the five-decade long regime has passed new laws regarding the economy, banned any forced labor and started to discuss cease fires with many of the ethnic groups located in the country.
Obama pointed out that much has been done, but much is left still to do. He said the U.S. had noticed the changes and that is why it has eased off some of the sanctions against the country and appointed a new ambassador to the country.