When I landed in Rangoon for the first time in April 2012 to photograph Burma’s historic parliamentary by-elections, I sped from the airport to my hotel in a rickety but relatively late-model taxi. A spirit of optimism informed my daily interactions. Jovial taxi drivers boasting Aung San Suu Kyi stickers and buttons, reveled in relating the failings of their government and their support for the National League for Democracy — just as any taxi driver might talk about politics in Dublin, London or New Orleans. The people on the street were free to speak. And as a foreign journalist, my cameras were out and working — not hiding — from the streets to the presidential palace. The Burma I encountered seemed vastly different from the relentlessly authoritarian state I’d heard so much about: here, I felt, was a country in vital transition.
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