Eastern Europe: Through the Curtain Under the Counter

EASTERN EUROPE

Behind bars in Trieste last week, unable to pay fines of $31,000 each, sat two Viennese truck drivers. Their crime: trying to take coffee labeled as fertilizer into Communist Yugoslavia. The two had been engaged in what has become one of the Continent's most lucrative enterprises. The gradual easing of visa restrictions in Eastern Europe, coupled with continuing, bleak shortages under Communism, has set off an unprecedented boom in West-to-East smuggling.

The underground trade has become a significant adjunct to the $3 billion-a-year above-board trade between free and Red Europe. Austria's Interior Minister Franz Olah, whose country ranks as the...

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