Lamal Chinar smiles as she operates a fairground ride in the snow-capped Mount Tochal, north of the ever-encroaching outskirts of Tehran. Schoolchildren on a trip away from the crawling traffic and smog of the Iranian capital scream with joy.
But beneath the surface she worries. Like so many of her compatriots, Chinar is both bystander and victim in America’s expanding drive to immobilise the Iranian economy through sanctions.
Her personal concerns are twofold – how to find the medicines her mother needs for a severe heart condition and how to transfer her money in and out of Iran.
“Iran does not produce the statins she needs,” she says. “I have a brother who has a business visa to travel to France, and he brings back as much as he can each time he goes abroad. We are lucky. Many people cannot go abroad. They go from pharmacy to pharmacy, and often go without. It is very painful.”
Most of Chinar’s income comes from work she does as a coder in Canada. No international commercial bank will touch money linked to sanctioned Iran, so in order to access her Canadian salary she has to take her chances on the black market, where there is a risk of her transfers being spirited away from her. As a result she only transfers small amounts a time, adding to the cost.
A GP standing nearby concurs. “We have some of the worst cancer levels in the world, partly due to the diet and partly due to the pollution,” says Zarha Talebi. “The price of petrol is so cheap here that everyone drives.
Read more: The Guardian
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