Eleven years have passed since the tragedy of the Express Samina off the coast of Paros in the Aegean. For those who do not remember the distressing images of people trying to get off a sinking ship two nautical miles from the quaint beaches of Paroikia, it was 10:15 in the evening and by 11.02, the clock on the ship’s bridge ceased ticking. Eighty-two passengers would never be seen smiling under the sun.
As a Greek, I will never fathom the injustice – not of life, but of bureaucracy, of disorganization – which allowed 82 people to die in the chilly September waters of the bay. As a Greek, I cannot but ask forgiveness from the families of those who never made it back home.
Eleven years have passed since the tragedy and nothing has changed. Well, not exactly «nothing». First off, the ministry in charge of mercantile marine affairs has seen a change in its name and is now a more refined Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries. Secondly, the minister at the helm at the time who arrived the next day on the exact same helicopters that were denied the green light to fly out in the rescue operation (due to a lack of trained crew, as government officials stated at the time) not only feels no pangs of remorse that would hasten his resignation, but is now the minister in charge of the Ministry of Citizen Protection.
Yes, that would be the Ministry of Public Order that surreptitiously altered its identity to serve the public by brutally hitting protesters these past months during demonstrations in Greece; launching millions of Euros worth of tear gas on civilians regardless whether they be part of a demonstration or not; issuing orders to spend an approximate 1.5 million Euros to escort the Prime Minister to Thessaloniki’s International Fair.
Greece has not learned from its past mistakes. What was considered human error, whose resulting death toll might have been significantly lower had things moved at a much quicker pace, was aggravated by dilatory bureaucratic procedures. What many ascribed to payoffs of government inspectors responsible for ship permits, now still continue unchecked. Eleven years have passed and all inept politicians have managed to achieve is prove to Greeks they can lie efficiently, that left-wing governments can indeed act like fascists, and all the while enjoy immunity to the both written and unwritten laws of the country.
Yes, the culprits were tried. The vice president of Minoan Flying Dolphins committed suicide leaving many questions unanswered. The ministry changed names. But will someone tell me – when will the corruption end? When?
(video: Dutch news report)