Four months ago, I wrote an article on Photography is Not a Crime explaining how I was contemplating quitting PINAC because it just wasn’t making enough money to pay my bills.
And it is still not making enough to pay my bills or our reporters, so I’ve taken steps to launch a new business that has nothing to do with PINAC, which will be taking me to Cuba for the next two weeks, beginning Thursday.
If things go as planned, I will be Media Director of a new travel agency that will sell travel packages to Cuba now that Obama is lifting restrictions.
My job will be to shoot photos and videos and tell stories about Cuba to encourage people to visit the island.
These won’t be your typical Caribbean vacation getaways, but more of a cultural immersion experience to abide by Obama’s “people to people” program he announced in March because the embargo is still in effect.
PINAC will still be publishing news, but I will be completely unconnected for the next two weeks because the site is blocked in Cuba, a Cold War inconvenience that I hope to eventually address.
And I hope to keep PINAC running even if I have to share my time between ventures. A man has to make a living.
My hope with the Cuban travel agency is to make extra money to pay my bills and not be under constant financial stress as I have been for the past nine years since launching PINAC.
If things go really well, then I will be able to afford to hire more editors and writers because as many ads as we put on this site, it is still not enough to ensure our staff gets paid regularly (and I hate those ads more than you).
I was in Cuba in March to see the Rolling Stones and I was there in 2006 – when I was threatened with arrest by U.S. Customs Agents upon my return for flying there without permission from the American government – so I have developed a true passion for the island that is only 180 miles from Miami.
My ultimate goal – besides lifting the ban on PINAC – is to write a book about Cuba, including its past, present and future, especially the transition it will be going through.
The book will include photos, including some of the ones in this article.
As a man who grew up in Miami surrounded by Cubans, but who does not have a drop of Cuban blood in him, I understand the Cuban situation better than most people.
However, I do not have the emotional pain of having Fidel Castro stealing my family’s property, so my book will not be clouded with political ideology.
But I know exactly what went down that year because my American-born father was living in Cuba in 1959, only to get kicked out by Castro’s henchmen.
And this after he welcomed Castro in like so many Cubans did at the time as you can see in this old photo (he later went to Colombia and married my mom).
I grew up with Cuban stories from my dad as well as the “viejitos” in the local Cuban coffeeshops, talking about the beauty of Cuba and how it was destroyed by Castro.
And I later discovered it is a beautiful island with beautiful people. And we all know Castro’s days are numbered.
So no, I am not a Castro sympathizer, in case you’re thinking that. But I do believe in lifting the embargo because it has done nothing in five decades. I believe we, as Americans, have a strong role to play in the future of Cuba.
After all, the best way to bring capitalism to Cuba is to flood the island with tourist dollars.
And as a writer, reporter and photographer, I want to be the one documenting the changes that are forthcoming.
And if you know somebody at Amazon, maybe you can get them to change the name of the author from “Not Carlos Ledson Miller” to just “Carlos Miller.”
Carlos Ledson Miller is another writer, but Amazon felt the need to tell their clients that I am not him.
If you do buy the book, please leave an honest review on the Amazon page.
And as far as PINAC being blocked, I really have no idea why, but I tried to access it from several computers when I was there in March and was unable to do so.
But I was, however, able to access a number of other American news sites, even controversial sites like The Intercept as well the usual corporate media sites, including the Miami Herald, which has never been a friend to the Cuban government, so I will be investigating this matter further when I am down there.
After all, the Rolling Stones were banned in Cuba for decades until this year, so there is hope for PINAC.
And while my new venture will mean that I will have less time to spend on PINAC, my plan is to continue letting it run rather than shut it down as I was contemplating earlier this year.
Even if I am not writing stories daily, I will ensure PINAC remains focused on police accountability and government transparency.