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Geopolitics

Drug Use Doubles In Iran, But True Numbers May Be Even Higher

The Iranian authorities burned more than 50,000 kg of drugs in 2014
The Iranian authorities burned more than 50,000 kg of drugs in 2014
Alidad Vassigh

Iran's Islamic regime may have harsh penalties for drug trafficking, but officials are now estimating that the number of "regular drug users' has doubled in the past six years, from 1.3 million to about 2.8 million.

The head of the country's drug control organization, Parviz Afshar, told Iran's ISNA news agency that currently "about 2.8 million" Iranians (in a country of 80 million) were regular users, of which 67% were hooked on traditional opium and eight percent on newer synthetic drugs. Afshar said the figures were estimates based on recent studies on a sample population of 60,000.

The public is skeptical of official figures on social vices

Agence France-Presse reports that underlying Iran's rising drug use may be its geography. The country lies between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where drugs are cultivated and produced, and Western consumers, making it a key transit route as well as a first market for a range of drugs.

The Tehran-based daily Aftab-e Yazd, suggested this week that the public was skeptical of official figures on "social vices' like drug use or divorce, suspecting that the government often lowers the totals to avoid social alarm or contempt. The distrust, the newspaper writes, increased when the conservative government led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made drug use figures confidential in 2002.

The publication cited the Tehran-based sociologist Ardeshir Geravand who stated that it was difficult to calculate the precise number of addicts — or to define them clearly — but that there could be as many as five to seven million addicts in Iran.

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Geopolitics

The Trumpian Virus Undermining Democracy Is Now Spreading Through South America

Taking inspiration from events in the United States over the past four years, rejection of election results and established state institutions is on the rise in Latin America.

Two supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dressed in Brazilian flags during a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Bolsonaro supporters dressed in national colours with flags in a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on November 4, 2022.

Ivan Abreu / ZUMA
Carlos Ruckauf*

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — South Africa's Nelson Mandela used to say it was "so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build."

Intolerance toward those who think differently, even inside the same political space, is corroding the bases of representative democracy, which is the only system we know that allows us to live and grow in freedom, in spite of its flaws.

Recent events in South America and elsewhere are precisely alerting us to that danger. The most explosive example was in Brazil, where a crowd of thousands managed to storm key institutional premises like the presidential palace, parliament and the Supreme Court.

In Peru, the country's Marxist (now former) president, Pedro Castillo, sought to use the armed and security forces to shut down parliament and halt the Supreme Court and state prosecutors from investigating corruption allegations against him.

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