Slavery Is Back, But Has It Ever Been Gone?

Beatriz da Costa, Staff Writer


It has been 152 years since slavery ended in the United States. After 500 brutal years of treating fellow human beings as property — and quite frankly, like dirt — slavery was officially abolished on Dec. 6, 1865.


It has been 21 days since CNN broke a haunting news story that ousted the ongoing slave trade in Libya. 21 days is more than enough time to get significant public outcry regarding the act. It is more than enough time for Western countries and Western media, CNN being the exception, to respond to the cruelty occurring in Libya.

It’s an argument that has been tweeted and retweeted, time and time again on Twitter when world tragedies like these occur, but the question still stands: Why does the world pay more attention to Western tragedies or attacks than those of developing countries?

The goal here is not to compare tragedies but rather to ask, why does the sale of human bodies at a price tag of at least $400 in Libya seem so insignificant? It feels like the news of Libyan slaves has to be forced down people’s throats in order for them to see what is going on in the northern African country.

Is it because Western citizens assume this a common occurrence in underdeveloped countries? That it is so typical of countries that may not share their same culture that it is not worth their attention? Completely innocent human beings, some who used Libya as a passage point to get to Europe, are currently living the nightmare that many African slaves went through for 500 years, but not enough individuals, specifically individuals in power, are concerned about it.

This is a pure violation of human rights and while the slave auctioneers and masters in Libya are to blame, I think it’s safe to say that the current state of their government is not all their fault.

While Libya has a recognized Prime Minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, it has mostly been considered a failed state since the death of the country’s President, Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011 in which they soon after headed into a civil war.

Former president Barack Obama was in office at the time of Gaddafi’s death, and he and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, set Gaddafi’s “removal” in motion. So, not only is the United States behind Gaddafi’s undertaking, Obama has also taken the blame for Libya’s aftermath following Gaddafi’s death.

“Failing to plan,” Obama said, following Gaddafi’s downfall was his biggest regret. After Gaddafi died, Libya had no means to be a successful state, and the United States left them out to hang dry, and continues to do so. As a country, we infiltrated Libya with the intention of improving their conditions, however, that intention was soon lost after we got what we wanted, which was Gaddafi’s removal.

My question now is why are we not providing aid to Libyans to clean up this mess we helped make? Why isn’t Italy, a country with ties to Libya, and the rest of the EU, which the United Nations also believes is to blame for the slavery, assisting the fallen African country?

Slavery lasted for 500 years in the United States, how long are we going to let it last in Libya?