Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Drug Routes

In previous posts on cold war propaganda and Cyprus I've revealed my love of 1950s newspaper maps. Here are  two more from the November 6 issue Vatan, 1956. The first shows drug - literally "poison" - trafficking routes. The second is devoted to global commerce of a different sort. As with most good maps this top one doesn't really need much explanation, or much translation. afyon is opium, the others should be pretty self explanatory. It is striking how much has changed in the global drug trade. At this point cocaine was still produced in Peru, not Columbia, and consumed in Europe, not America. What's more the cocaine reaching the US came via England. The caption goes on to explain that Chinese opium was brought to America by Japanese smugglers while Lebanese opium reached Europe via Sicily and Corsica. Hash, it notes, is produced in Egypt and mostly consumer there. The giant marijuana arrow from Mexico to the US is about the one thing that remained constant.

Opium trafficking, interestingly, was one of the few diplomatic problems that arose between the otherwise fairly isolated US and Turkish governments during the 1930s. It again became an issue in the 1970s, when Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit defied American pressure and lifted Turkey's ban on poppy cultivation in solidarity with Turkish farmers. Now, Turkey is the source much of the legally purchased opium used for making medicine in the US. An interesting op-ed offers one account of how this came to be.

Finally, the GE ad below advertises the fact that since a billion GE bulbs are sold every year there is one bulb for every two people on earth.