Prototyping and implementing distributed algorithms, particularly those that address challenges related with fault-tolerance and dependability, is a time consuming task. This is, in part, due to the need of addressing low level aspects such as management of communication channels, controlling timeouts or periodic tasks, and dealing with concurrency issues. This has a significant impact for researchers that want to build prototypes for conducting experimental evaluation; practitioners that want to compare different design alternatives/solutions; and even for practical teaching activities on distributed algorithms courses. In this paper we present Babel, a novel framework to develop, implement, and execute distributed protocols and systems. Babel promotes an event driven programming and execution model that simplifies the task of translating typical specifications or descriptions of algorithms into performant prototypes, while allowing the programmer to focus on the relevant challenges of these algorithms by transparently handling time consuming low level aspects. Furthermore, Babel provides, and allows the definition of, networking components that can capture different network capabilities (e.g., P2P, Client/Server, p-accrual Failure Detector), making the code mostly independent from the underlying communication aspects. Babel was built to be generic and can be used to implement a wide variety of different classes of distributed protocols. We conduct our experimental work with two relevant case studies, a Peer-to-Peer application and a State Machine Replication application, that show the generality and ease of use of Babel and present competitive performance when compared with significantly more complex implementations.