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Africa is a pretty big place. You could fit the U.S., China and Europe in its borders and still have room for India. The continent is exceptionally rich in natural resources, and the climate is varied. There are bone-dry deserts, lush jungles and endless savannas between them.

The landmass is home to 56 countries, and in one little slice of hell called The Islamic Republic of Mauritania, there’s still slavery. Yep, you read that right. Approximately 10% to 20% of Mauritania’s population is literally owned by someone else.

The ordinance which abolished slavery in Mauritania in 1981 was supposed to compensate owners for the loss of their slaves, but the money was never paid. That’s hardly surprising. Mauritania is poor even by African standards. About a fifth of the country gets by on a little over a dollar a day, and the entire country has a GDP of $3.6 billion. To put that number in perspective, my home state of Virginia has a GDP of over $300 billion.

Enslaving someone didn’t become a crime in Mauritania until 2007, and as far as I can tell, only one person has been prosecuted for violating the law. The country is also so poor many slaves are afraid to run away. With their masters they’ll at least receive some food. If they run they could starve.

Some well-meaning religious groups have attempted to end slavery in Mauritania and Sudan by buying and freeing slaves, but that has only served to keep the slave price high, which gives continuing economic justification for the practice.

I’m no bleeding heart liberal, but it always amazes me how our government spends its money. Instead of paying to support the terrorists who toppled Gadaffi, or funding the terrorists battling Assad in Syria, we could use that money to do some tangible good here. I’m not much of a fan of foreign aid, but if we’re going to spend the money anyway, let’s spend it like we’ve got some goddamn sense.

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