June 17, 2015
Dear Friend of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy,
For the last several months the Campaign for Peace and Democracy has concentrated on the unfolding events in Greece, where the new Syriza government has been relentlessly assaulted by what used to be called the Troika, now cosmetically renamed “the institutions” -- the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund
We have sought to defend the Greek people against the institutions’ outrageous austerity demands. We have also publicized the strategic debates within the Greek left about how best to sustain the promise of Syriza’s January 2015 electoral victory in the face of European leaders’ attempts to undermine and destroy Greece’s challenge to the existing neoliberal order.
Today we are asking for your support. Thanks to your help in the past, we’ve organized these 2015 initiatives:
- A major public forum, “After the Greek Elections: The Future of Austerity in Greece, Europe and Beyond,” on February 6 at New York University. Just days after Syriza’s spectacular electoral success, the meeting featured speakers from a range of left perspectives -- Nantina Vgontzas, Natassa Romanou, Iannis Delatolas, Aaron Amaral, and Alan Akrivos -- who debated the options facing the new government. The discussion, available as a video and a transcript, foreshadowed many of the controversies that have emerged in Greece in the face of the institutions’ draconian demands. The event, which was livestreamed, was co-sponsored by a number of organizations and attracted more than 225 people. When the chair announced that friends from Podemos were present, the room burst into applause as they came up to the podium to give warm greetings to the crowd.
- A few days after the forum, CPD joined with other organizations in a demonstration at the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations in New York City, joining an international mobilization as EU Ministers met in Brussels to discuss the Greek debt question. It was a bitter cold evening, matching the cold shoulder that European elites were to offer in response to the Syriza government’s attempt to win a decent future for the Greek people.
- On February 18 we circulated a CPD sign-on statement “We Support the Greek People’s Struggle against Austerity,” and sent it to the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. In an open letter the statement said, “We write to express our horror and outrage at the merciless steps you have taken against Greece. By insisting on the continuation of harsh austerity measures you have demonstrated to the world your callous indifference to the fate of millions in Greece. Now, at the 11th hour, we call on you to change course,” . . . “‘to respect the democratic choice made by the Greek people . . . and to provide relief to Greece, as well as other countries overburdened with crippling debt, and to abandon the punitive 'Memorandum,' with its demands on Greece for inhumane 'reforms' that deprive millions of Greeks of economic and physical security." We sent the Greek government a copy of the open letter.
- Expanding on the strategic debate featured in our February forum, in March we prepared for The Nation magazine a special discussion of the options facing Greece, beginning with Syriza’s 2014 Thessaloniki Program, the basis on which the party campaigned for the January 25th elections, and an overview by Sarah Leonard that provided context for the policy debate, plus nine selected articles representing differing viewpoints. The first by Tom Walker was followed by interviews conducted by Sebastian Budgen with Stathis Kouvelakis and Costas Lapavitsas. Next were articles by Michael Roberts, Kouvelakis, Barry Finger, James K. Galbraith, and Maria Margaronis. Each article was preceded by a brief introduction and summary prepared by Barry Finger. The articles were followed by links to the report of the Hellenic League for Human Rights documenting the horrific human rights abuses produced by the austerity crisis, and to an ongoing reference list on Greece provided by the Canadian Socialist Project.
- In April the trial of far-right Golden Dawn leaders for their criminal activities began in Greece. CPD circulated an appeal for support from the lawyers conducting the case.
- In May and again in June we responded to another appeal for support from Greece, this time for signatures on the Appeal to Support the Resisting Greek People and its Truth Commission on Public Debt announced by the president of the Hellenic parliament Zoe Konstantopoulou.
- The appeal asks: "What happened to the money that made up this loan? What were the conditions attached to it? How much interest has been paid, at what rate? How much capital has been repaid? How was the debt allowed to accumulate without benefiting the people? Where did the capital go? What was it used for? How much was diverted, by whom, and how was this done? And also: Who took out this loan and in whose name? Who granted the loan and what was their role? How did the state become involved? By what decision, taken with what authorisation? How did private debts become ‘public’? Who set up such inappropriate schemes, who pushed in this direction, who profited from them? Were offences or crimes committed with this money? Why has penal civil, criminal and administrative responsibility not been established?” Today, June 17, the Truth Commission presented its preliminary results: Greece should not pay this debt because it is illegal, illegitimate, and odious.
- On May 13 CPD joined with other groups in sending an open letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, expressing solidarity with the Greek people while expressing our dismay at a photo of him shaking hands with Egypt’s dictator, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi; the photo was taken to illustrate accounts of a meeting forging a joint Egyptian, Greek and Cypriot alliance in the “war on terror.” The letter concluded, “We pledge our continued solidarity with Greece, and promise to step up our support at this crucial moment when negotiations with the bankers and their states are at such a climactic point . . . As part of that continued solidarity we ask you, Mr. Tsipras, to count on your friends around the world, to extend the Greek example, and not to succumb instead to the totally understandable but misdirected pursuit of false friends in marble halls and steel barracks.”
- Most recently, we co-sponsored the U.S. tour of Christos Giovanopoulos, of Greece’s Solidarity for All, which supports the many social solidarity initiatives established in Greece as a part of the resistance to austerity policies. People have taken matters into their own hands through grassroots activism and local collective action, including social pharmacies, social medical clinics, social kitchens, social groceries, markets without middlemen, a social collective of mental health professionals, social solidarity drop-in centers, time banks (sharing skills and time), olive oil producers sharing olive oil, the "potato movement," where farmers trade directly with consumers, cutting out the supermarkets.
- On May 18 CPD co-sponsored a talk by Richard Roman about his recently re-published book, co-authored with Edur Velasco Arregui, Continental Crucible: Big Business, Workers and Unions in the Transformation of North America. The book examines the resistance to the corporate offensive in North America and argues that the cross-border character of the Mexican working class and of "international" (U.S.-Canadian) unions could potentially re-energize North American labor.
- CPD has urged its supporters to attend a rally at 1pm in Manhattan in solidarity with Egyptian political prisoners, at Union Square (south side). The rally is part of an international initiative against repression in Egypt called by the Middle East North Africa (MENA) Solidarity Network-US in collaboration with the Egyptian Solidarity Initiative in London, working with activists in Egypt. For further information, check the event's Facebook page.
In these critical times, CPD needs your help to continue our work in support of democratic and social justice movements and in promoting a democratic, peaceful U.S. foreign policy.
CPD depends on your contributions, so please give as generously as you can. To donate on line, visit our website. You can mail your check made out to Campaign for Peace and Democracy. For credit card donations, mail the amount, credit card number, expiration date, and your name, indicating whether this is a one-time donation or a gift that recurs monthly. Foreign donations must be made by U.S. money orders or checks payable in U.S. currency drawn on U.S. banks. Our address is Campaign for Peace and Democracy, 2808 Broadway, #12, NY, NY 10025.
Donations are tax-deductible. Thank you very much in advance for your support -- we could not survive without your help.
In peace and solidarity,
Joanne Landy and Thomas Harrison
Co-Directors, Campaign for Peace and Democracy