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Report on Campaign for Peace and Democracy Forum

“The Political and Humanitarian Crisis in Greece”
with Dr. Alexis Benos

New York University, October 23, 2012
by Natassa Romanou, Columbia University and Organizing Committee of SYRIZA-NYC

A panel discussion on "The Political and Humanitarian Crisis in Greece" was held at New York University on Tuesday, October 23, 2012.

The event was organized by the Campaign for Peace and Democracy (www.cpdweb.org), along with the Left Movement New York (Aristeri Kinisi NY), Physicians for a National Health Program-NY Metro Chapter, and the Radical Film and Lecture Series (RFLS). The discussion was introduced by Thomas Harrison and moderated by Joanne Landy. Harrison and Landy are CPD Co-Directors. A video of the event is now on YouTube at http://youtu.be/UQvkH27jBVQ

In his presentation Dr. Alexis Benos, Professor of Social Medicine and Primary Health Care at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and a member of the National Coordinating Committee of a major Greek left party, SYRIZA (Coalition of Radical Left Movements), summarized the current situation in Greece, with a focus on the government's dismantling of the national health care system and slashing social benefits -- and the response of the movement which has been to expand social solidarity, resistance and organization. Benos also discussed SYRIZA itself, from its original stages of organization to the current process of forming a single unified party.

Costas Panayotakis, Associate Professor of Sociology at the NY City College of Technology, reported on the dilemmas posed today for the left and SYRIZA in particular, focusing on working class and trade union representation, which is controlled largely by neoliberal elements.

Marina Sitrin, PhD in Global Sociology and JD in International Human Rights, focused on the grassroots movement and raised questions about how a left SYRIZA government will address initiatives from the base.

Dr. Matthew Anderson from the Montefiore Residency Program in Social Medicine in the Bronx focused on health care issues, and raised questions about the response to the humanitarian crisis.

Rich discussion ensued with many interventions. Particularly strong was the presence of members of the newly established SYRIZA-New York.

A version of this report has been sent in Greek for publication in Greece.


Photo by: Avgi/G. Kyritsis