EDITOR’S NOTE: In his North American tour, Dimitris Koutsoumpas, General Secretary of the KKE (Communist Party of Greece), visited Montreal, Toronto and New York. In New York, besides meeting with Friends of KKE in the large Greek community in Astoria, Queens he also met representatives of the Amazon Labor Union and  the student antiwar protesters at Columbia University. Below, in unofficial English translation,  are his remarks in Astoria.

 

April 27, 2024

Dear Friends,

Dear Comrades,

It is a great pleasure to be with you, with the comrades and friends of the KKE here in New York, in the United States.

You know, many people are surprised to learn that the KKE has organizations and Friends Clubs practically all over the planet. In Europe, in North America, in Australia, wherever there are Greek immigrants.

But the explanation is simple: our ideas, the ideals of socialism, the desire and hope for the abolition of the exploitation of man by man and the building of a just society, have no borders, they are universal.

Besides, the Greeks who live abroad have more proof in their hands of what we are trying to explain to the Greek people:

That, despite differences from country to country, capitalist paradises do not exist.

Humane capitalism also does not exist.

No matter how developed a capitalist country is, no matter what “colour” government it has, no matter what state its “institutions” are in, everywhere a minority of social parasites exploit the sweat and thought of the great majority.

And this large majority is experiencing ever greater deadlocks…

From trying to get an education without being up to her neck in loans, to the issue of housing, or access to health services.

And all this, at a time when the potential for the full coverage of its needs has objectively taken off.

When we come to the United States, to Canada, to other foreign countries, you know that we don’t come to meet the various lobbies, nor the associations of big capitalists, the so-called “investors”.

We come to meet the diaspora, workers’ associations, migrant workers and their descendants. But also young people, mostly scientists, who left Greece during the last great crisis and are still leaving.

Besides, historically, Greek immigrants in the USA have put their indelible stamp on the development of the labour movement in this country, by participating in militant strikes, and have given heroic forms of class struggle that reached the ultimate sacrifice, such as Louis Tikas from Crete.

We believe that they have much to offer today and in the future, because the reconstruction of the workers’ and people’s movement and the communist movement in every country, the counterattack of the peoples against barbarism, is a need that is becoming more and more urgent every day.

So that we can “breathe again”, as was the motto of the great mobilizations sparked by the brutal murder of the African-American George Floyd a few years ago.

A slogan that perfectly expressed the feeling, especially of the young generation in the US, in Greece, in the whole capitalist world.

That is why your presence here today is very important, and your overall action and the effort to strengthen the KKE in the ballot boxes abroad in the European elections of 9 June.

So that we can continue from the next day with more strength the difficult but beautiful struggle that we are fighting on all fronts, until the final victory of the people.

Comrades,

We know that all of you are concerned about the situation in Greece, about how your relatives, your friends, all the Greek people are living.

Many of you are concerned, and rightly so, about the situation of the labour movement in Greece and Europe. Whether steps are being taken, whether hope for another perspective is growing stronger. So let me make a reference:

In the face of the full frontal assault by the EU and governments on labour and other rights and under the weight of the dire situation facing the peoples of Europe, major national and sectoral strike mobilisations have been organised in almost all countries over the last three years.

The period of the COVID-19 pandemic showed clearly who the real producers of wealth are, what was the enormous contribution of the workers in Health, Transport, Energy, Supermarkets, as opposed to the parasitic capitalists, who accumulated huge profits from the trade of life and health of the people.

At the same time, it showed the power of the organised people to break bans and restrictions on the action of the KKE and the trade unions.

PAME’s strike rally on May Day 2020, which reached the New York Times, and the breaking of the curfew on the anniversary of the Polytechnic uprising by the KKE and the trade unions, sent exactly this message.

Then the imperialist war in Ukraine, the energy poverty that has engulfed the whole of Europe, the stagnating wages, the attack on social and insurance rights, have further aggravated the situation.

Workers in many European countries have organised the most massive strike actions in 30 years!

In France, in Germany, in Britain,  in Greece, in almost all countries, in strategic sectors such as Energy, Transport, Industry, Health, Education.

We know that the same thing has happened in recent years here in the US, with big strikes in the car industry, in transport, in big hotels, in multinational companies.

We are following with great interest the promising steps taken for the return of workers to the unions, with the creation of new ones, as in AMAZON.

Huge demonstrations were held in Greece, London, Paris and elsewhere against the genocide being committed in Palestine by the murderous state of Israel.

Like the demonstrations of the university students, here in New York, in other cities, that are denouncing US support of Israel.

The recent mobilisations of the farmers, as in our country, were similarly large.

All these promising struggles show that the people have not had their last word.

That the power of the workers lies in organisation and struggle, and that with this power they can impose their right.

As you will know, for the last four years the Greek economy has been in a phase of capitalist recovery. Only this, as is always the case, is not for everyone.

Profits are breaking records, but wages for workers remain stuck at 2009 levels, while prices for basic food, fuel, energy and rents have doubled.

Military spending for NATO and the EU, for Greece’s involvement in imperialist wars, is multiplying, while the Education and Health systems are collapsing.

In these conditions, the KKE has revealed the real causes of poverty and exploitation.

It has shown the perspective of opposing the real culprits, the system of the capitalists and their state, leading the way in organising the struggle of the working class and the popular strata with a plan.

Dozens of local, regional, sectoral and national mobilisations were organised on the initiative of primary and secondary trade union organisations, responding to the call of PAME.

On the occasion of the tragic railway accident on the now privatised railway network, which cost the lives of 57 of our fellow human beings, two and a half million people and youth of our country took to the streets. The most massive mobilisations of recent years were organised.

The slogan that dominated the human rivers that flooded the big cities of our country was “their profits or our lives”, a slogan that has been heard before during the pandemic period.

As then, on 28 February, a few weeks ago, a new nationwide all-worker strike shook our country with the same slogan.

This is because after a year the railway crime remains unpunished, but also because this slogan unifies all aspects of working class life that are sacrificed for the profits of the monopolies, such as wages and income, health, education, housing, Social Security.

This was followed by a new general strike last Wednesday, 17 April and we continue with the May Day strike next week.

In these mobilisations they met on the road of struggle:

– The workers who fought for collective agreements and wage increases,

– The farmers who fought for decent prices for their agricultural products, against the EU CAP,

– The students who fought for modern, exclusively public and free education.

The coordination of the struggle and its expression in a nationwide front of struggle against the government and the EU was achieved through the active work of communists in the trade unions, the mass organisations of peasants and students.

The mobilisations were organised “from below”, by Federations and Labour Centres, by hundreds of primary unions, despite the undermining of the trade union leaderships of PASOK, ND and SYRIZA.

In recent years, in more and more primary unions, but also in secondary organisations, the workers trust the communists and those who go along with us, make them a majority.

There are similar positive developments in the student movement, where the party of the KNE is now the leading force after decades.

These, as well as the strengthening of the KKE in the European elections, which we seek, will help to multiply the centres of struggle, to strengthen the current of questioning the EU and the policies of the bourgeois governments.

Tomorrow it will be transformed into a current for the overthrow of capitalist barbarism.

And if some people slyly ask why a party opposed to the EU should be strengthened in the European elections, we answer them: That is exactly why the KKE should be strengthened.

Because the KKE has no commitments to the EU of the monopolies and that is why it can reveal that behind every people’s problem lies the EU policy which is being implemented to the letter by the New Democracy with the assistance of SYRIZA, PASOK and others.

Friends,

An important element of the mobilisations of the last years in Greece, with the decisive contribution of the KKE, are those against the involvement of our country in imperialist plans and wars.

We know that many of those who visit the Greek community in the United States speak eloquently about “Greek-American relations being at their best ever”, and of course they do not mean the relations of the two peoples, but of their exploiters and the governments that serve them.

They talk about Greece emerging as a “pillar of stability” and the “great allies who protect us from challenges”.

Unfortunately, these clichés do not reflect reality at all.

We have the responsibility to inform the Greek community, as we inform the entire Greek people, that the situation in the region where our country is located is not only unstable.

And unfortunately Greece is very deeply involved in both of the two major wars that are raging in the region at the moment.

The one in Ukraine, which started with the unacceptable Russian invasion two years ago, but in fact goes back much further than that, at least since 2014 and the US-NATO-EU coup to change a government they didn’t like and put in a government that would do the job.

And in the Middle East, where the antagonisms and conflicts have intensified and at this moment, we are facing the risk of a generalisation of war.

In a region where the massacre of the Palestinian people by the conqueror and murderer state of Israel, which at the same time is confronting other countries such as Lebanon, Syria and of course Iran, continues.

You should know that Greece is up to its neck in the plans of the US – NATO – EU, that is, it is involved in supporting their plans in both of these imperialist conflicts.

You should know that Greece is dotted from north to south with US-NATO bases. That many of our ports have been ceded to handle war material. All this makes our cities targets for retaliation by the opposing camps.

And don’t think that this is a theoretical scenario. The warnings have been made in the most official way and Alexandroupoli, for example, is only 1000 km away from Ukraine…

At the same time, a Greek frigate is off Lebanon and another one in the Red Sea, literally in the “eye of the tornado”, while a Patriot battery is in Saudi Arabia.

Equipment that our people have paid gold for, supposedly for the defence of the country and personnel of the Greek Armed Forces have been sent thousands of kilometres away from the borders they have sworn to protect, to protect interests, Greek and foreign, profits and plans that have nothing to do with our people.

Responsible for this is the government of Mr.  Mitsotakis’s ND, which is taking these decisions by playing the role of a henchman in NATO and the EU.

However, SYRIZA, PASOK, Velopoulos’ party, all parties except KKE, which have consented to this situation and openly support it, are absolutely co-responsible, and their MEPs in the European Parliament have voted for them.

Indeed, the president of SYRIZA, Mr.Kasselakis, recently went so far as to call NATO a “sacred defence alliance”. Of course, even members of the 1950s EPP did not say this, but let them be happy for him…

Of course, these parties of the system, NATO and the EU, avoid raising in public debate the issues of imperialist war and the involvement of our country.

And when they come here in the diaspora, instead of defending their positions on these things, they prefer to tell you some ridiculous things about the miracles that happened at their baptism, thinking they are talking to some suckers.

The reason is quite simply that they are all aligned with the strategic choices and alliances of the Greek ruling class, so they are not suitable for setting up their false race, especially in an election period.

They want the people to take them for granted and not think too much about them.

The KKE is the only one that insists on shouting about these issues, informing the Greek people, warning about developments and revealing what is happening.

And of course to come forward to organize the popular struggle against this dangerous involvement of our country.

That is why it is very important that it is strengthened in the European elections. Because a vote for the KKE is the only one that cannot in any way be interpreted as a reward for this dangerous situation.

On the contrary, it will be a force to fight it even more vigorously from the next day, as, of course, to defend all the rights of the Greek people.

We know that you who live far from home have a keen and healthy interest in so-called “national issues”.

We know that you often hear that these great allies will protect Greece at a critical moment, for example against the aggression of the Turkish bourgeoisie.

Let us be clear: it has never been proven, and it never will be. These “allies” know no justice, they have no bias.

They only care about their own interests, the interests of their own lobbies and groups, and they demand that they get along with Turkey, that they keep it in the NATO embrace at all costs and that it does not get closer to Russia.

After all, this year marks 50 years since the Turkish invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus and we know the attitude of NATO and the “allies” then, but also afterwards, all these decades, until today, that step by step they are pushing towards the definitive partition of the island.

A few days before I came here, I visited Cyprus, where I had meetings with the entire political and state leadership and expressed the KKE’s firm solidarity with the Cypriot people in their struggle for a united and independent homeland, without occupation armies, alleged guarantors and foreign troops.

Now, of course, most parties in Greece have forgotten about Cyprus, they have put it aside, because it is a “thorn” and spoils the so-called “good climate” they have built with Turkey.

I don’t know how good the mood is, of course, when a few days ago Turkey again raised the issue of “grey zones” in the Aegean, proving that it has not given up any of its unacceptable claims.

And we know very well that this is done with the “backing” of the allies, mainly the US, who have repeatedly refused to take a position on whether there are islands of disputed sovereignty in the Aegean.

In reality, what they are interested in and are preparing is a settlement under the NATO “umbrella” in the Aegean, which will be in the logic of co-exploitation and co-management, not of course for the good and prosperity of the two peoples, but for business groups, energy and others.

A temporary arrangement, as they all are in capitalism, which will contain the seed of the next conflicts.

The KKE will continue to fight with all its forces against the dangerous complacency cultivated by all others, to inform and mobilize the people.

Dear friends and comrades,

On 9 June, Greeks of the diaspora have the option to participate in the electoral process exclusively through the postal vote.

We call on you, those who have not already done so, to make your application in the few remaining days and send a message by voting for the KKE and to those who treat you as pigeons.

Who say they care about you and want to give you a voice, while they are the ones who do nothing to solve the problems of the Diaspora.

The KKE, as you know, disagreed with the postal vote, not because it does not want to make it easier for expatriates who have real ties with the country to vote from their place of residence.

On the contrary, we have made a great effort to do so over the past years.

And now, in the last procedure, we have proposed to multiply the number of overseas polling stations, so as not to require costly long journeys.

But the government rejected it, saying it “costs too much”. Even your democratic right, they treat it in terms of cost.

But we warned, however, of the dangerous paths that the postal vote opens up for manipulating voters, for exerting pressure, without any safeguards.

And unfortunately, we were not long in being confirmed, with the scandal of the leakage of personal data of expatriates, which the ND made a flyer and distributed it here and there. And who knows what we have yet to see…

We have spoken clearly and said that postal voting alone cannot increase participation in elections and combat abstention, since this is due to political and social reasons, not technical ones.

As far as the expatriates are concerned, apart from objective reasons, it is also due to the fact that the governments’ policies alienate them further from the country, with the result that many of them do not find a reason to take part in the elections.

Expatriates have experience, for example, of the dramatic understaffing of the Consulates, the underfunding, which results in thousands of Greek expatriates being inconvenienced for requests that could be dealt with immediately if there was the necessary staffing and simplification of procedures.

Unfortunately, this dramatic situation, the problems that afflict Greek expatriates, concerns all expatriates around the world.

On these problems, the KKE has taken parliamentary initiatives, but the Greek government has not given answers to the specific issues we have raised as a party.

The KKE will continue to press with all its forces in the Parliament and in the European Parliament in the direction of an immediate confrontation and solution of the problems of the Greek Diaspora.

Also, the situation in Greek-language education is literally a handicap for the majority of Greek immigrants.

Instead of focusing on the needs of the children of Greek immigrants growing up in another country, in practice, through underfunding, understaffing and the lack of a properly adapted curriculum for Greek-language education at all levels and grades, the government of the ND, like its predecessors, is forcing parents, students and teachers into despair.

Therefore, it is only logical that the accelerating course of degradation and devaluation of Greek-language education abroad, which has been accelerating for several years, intensifies the anxiety whether the abolition of Greek-language education structures or their replacement by private structures, which will operate with tuition fees, with parents being asked to put their hand deep into their pockets, is even on the cards.

The issues that, as a Party, we know are of great concern to Greeks living in the US are not very different from those faced by Greek immigrants in other countries.

We consider it unacceptable that this unacceptable situation regarding the posting of teachers has been going on for years.

Is it possible that the Greek state does not take care to send as many teachers as it needs, that it does not ensure that their salaries can guarantee them a decent standard of living, that it does not take care to increase the number of new Greek schools, so that the needs of children can be met in better conditions?

Many argue that all of the above stems from the indifference shown by the Greek state.

It’s not quite like that, nor is it mainly due to that. After all, all the governments of ND, SYRIZA and PASOK in recent years have implemented numerous interventions in terms of Greek-language education.

These interventions are to the detriment of the expatriates: with each of them, the “elimination” of the necessary educational personnel and their working conditions continues, with the popular family bearing more and more burdens, with the support for the operation of the institutions of Greek-language education being more and more incomplete.

This targeting is obviously to the detriment of the children and the quality and content of their education in Greek.

It is another typical example of the priorities set by the various Greek governments over time. They prefer the enrichment of the profits of business groups rather than supporting the education of the children of Greek immigrants.

In the face of this situation, the KKE, consistently and consistently, with many parliamentary interventions, but also with the action of its forces abroad, supports in every way the struggle of Greeks in the diaspora for the education of their children in the Greek language and for the upgrading of the terms and conditions of teachers’ work.

Dear Friends,

The main issue that we as a Party raise is the necessity of the active participation and action of Greek immigrants to solve the problems they live and experience as a result of the anti-people’s policies that are applied and implemented in all capitalist countries.

In this direction, the members and friends of the KKE who live, work and study abroad are fighting alongside other workers, other immigrants.

They work actively in the movement, first and foremost in the trade unions, in the workplaces, in the schools, in the place of residence, in order to form pockets of resistance to anti-people’s policies.

Indeed, in the face of the upcoming European elections, the dilemma facing Greek migrants is clear:

Will they strengthen the ND, SYRIZA and PASOK who, having participated in the governments of the previous years, are heavily responsible for the situation that sent them and keeps them abroad?

Or will the KKE be strengthened, in order to strengthen the struggle for the satisfaction of their demands against any Greek government and the EU?

Will those whose parties are responsible for the situation experienced by Greek immigrants in the countries where they live be supported?

Or will the KKE be strengthened, in order to intensify the effort to organise their struggle, within the framework of the workers’ and people’s movement in each country, for the struggle for the satisfaction of their needs?

Every aspect of the life of Greek immigrants gives an additional reason for them to support the KKE with their vote, even if they do not agree with it on everything.

In the various countries where they live, Greek immigrants have experience of all kinds of governments, supposedly “progressive” or conservative, one-party or co-operative, and of every variant of bourgeois management.

They know first-hand that those who claim that the profits from capitalist growth can be distributed fairly and to the many are fooling themselves.

That is why more and more people understand and agree with the KKE that only through struggle can the people impose their right.

The strengthening of the KKE with thousands of Greek expatriate votes is a condition for putting the demand for the satisfaction of the people’s needs in the forefront, in opposition to the logic of reduced demands, which undermines the struggles and demands of immigrants, both towards the Greek government and towards the governments of the countries where they reside.

Greeks abroad can send the message that the working people’s counter-attack is the demand of the times!

That there is no realistic prospect of a way out of the deadlocks of capitalism on a path other than the path of strengthening the people’s claim, with our contemporary needs at the forefront of the struggles, outside the EU of monopolies, nationalism, wars, with people’s power!

The decisive strengthening of the KKE by Greek residents abroad will be the most powerful message that can be given in their countries of residence, in order to strengthen the optimistic effort that the KKE, together with other Communist and Labour Parties, is making to revive and strengthen the spark of the international workers’ communist movement.

For these reasons and many more, the call for militant solidarity that the KKE is making in the present conditions is of particular importance and can find a significant impact abroad.

Because here in the US, as in Greece, Greek workers and employees, Greek scientists and students, freelancers, as well as the working class and the poor popular strata, have capital and its power against them.

Because here too, as in Greece, the roller coaster of “green” and “digital” development, of the intensification of imperialist rivalries, is rushing through, smashing the people’s income, labour relations, workers’ rights, the people’s housing.

Because here too, the immediate task is to regroup the workers’ movement in an anti-capitalist direction, in order to strengthen the determination, the demand, the struggle for the society we need in order to live as we deserve.

So we continue with determination, with faith in the right and in the power of the struggle, with confidence that we can succeed, with intensity of effort, so that the voice of the KKE reaches everywhere in the one month and something that remains.

And from here in New York, from the United States, Greeks abroad can send a message with many recipients, which no one can read otherwise: KKE!

In order to further strengthen the current of questioning the dominant policy, the EU, which is being implemented by the government of the ND and assisted by the other parties.

All those who take courage and strength from the struggles that are gaining strength in Greece have one choice: to strengthen the KKE, which is at the forefront of these struggles.

Today’s event is proof that we can do it, each one of us putting his or her own little stone in the effort of our Party.

A strong KKE in Greece and to Greeks abroad is the most powerful message of resistance to the peoples of Europe and the whole world, it is a message of resistance, hope and overthrow!