L'oppio del popolo.
A Feb. 2 report by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime found that the price of opium in Burma, also known as Myanmar, increased by 15% last year. As a result, Burmese land dedicated to poppy cultivation actually expanded in 2008, despite promises by the country's ruling junta to combat its reputation as one of the world's most notorious narco-states.(Burma's Opium Production Back on Rise)
Back in 1999, Burma's top brass unveiled a 15-year plan to completely eliminate opium cultivation. For a few years, production, as measured in part by U.N. helicopter forays over Burma, did indeed decline. But the U.N. now reports that poppy land has increased by 33% since the lowest levels recorded in 2006. Last year was the second consecutive year of growth, and the trend shows how unlikely it is that the junta will make good on its goal of completely wiping out poppies by 2014. (The alarming statistics didn't stopped Myanmar T.V., however, from claiming earlier this month that the anti-drug effort is going forward with "added momentum" and "remarkable progress").