Deadly Anti-drug Efforts in Honduras, and Iran as an Ally in the War on Drugs
The news about drugs in Central and South America is often horrendous, but recent events in Honduras may surpass anything that has gone before. In two separate incidents, Honduran Air Force pilots shot down small planes flying off the coast. American radar intelligence was used in one of them, according to an article in The New York Times. What’s astounding is that neither Honduras nor the United States knows if the planes were indeed carrying drugs, and the pilots’ acts violated international law and established protocols.
It sounded as if the U.S. had just started an offensive against drug trafficking in Honduras, and understandably, U.S. officials were outraged. They also suspect U.S. commandos were conducting drug raids when they were only supposed to be acting as advisors, which could point to human rights abuses.
Articles like this one shed light on the U.S. administration’s policy and actions, which hope to stem the tide of drugs into our country. In aligning with several Latin American countries, our country was actually attempting to protect Honduras and “use it as a chokepoint to cut off the flow of drugs headed north.” But this latest effort has gone terribly wrong, and the article is worth reading for how the effort was bungled. A new initiative focuses more on “judicial reform and institution-building.” Honduras has rampant corruption like many Latin America countries, unfortunately, which doesn’t help anti-drug efforts.
For a total 180-degree turn, look no further (surprisingly) than Iran for some good news on the drug war front. Iran borders both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that has been a problem. For years, drug traffickers crossed the borders of these countries to enter Iran with opium and heroin that they would then transport to Europe and the Persian Gulf.
But the Iranian army dug trenches and built walls along the borders to try and deter the traffickers, and thwart them they have, “seizing the largest number of shipments worldwide,” the New York Times said, citing a report by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.
Drugs have a religious link in Iran’s fight—the country’s leaders consider the fight against drugs a religious duty. However, that’s not the only way the war on drugs in Iran is different than it’s fought in other countries. A representative for the United Nations drug office in Tehran said the West had cut back on financing to help the Iranians, and Iran seems to have lost more lives in the war than many other countries.
As in Honduras, there are human rights considerations in Iran. The country sentences drug dealers to death, and uses hanging as one method. On the other hand, Iran has drug rehab programs for its 1.2 million addicts, and treats them (humanely) as patients, offering methadone and other medications rather than prison.
Of course, Iran is glad for the positive publicity about their fight against drugs because of the negative perception about its “nuclear enrichment program” and upcoming negotiations.