IVLP Alumni Voices: Dr. Spyridon Peristeris

by Lynare Robbins

In November 2019, Spyridon Peristeris, Ph.D.; Advisor of Secretary General for Trade and Consumer Protection at the Hellenic Ministry of Economy and Development of Greece, was among the visitors to Miami for an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) on Intellectual Property and Customs Enforcement. The goals of the program were to facilitate sharing of American best practices on intellectual property and customs enforcement; emphasize the importance of establishing a high-threshold, risk-based, national security-focused customs screening system that can identify and remove counterfeit goods; and explore areas of possible cooperation, such as of sharing customs data to identify discrepancies and lost revenue. Local meetings took place with community partners in Miami with Jennifer Diaz, Esq, an expert in working with the many Federal agencies that regulate trade; Augusto Perera, Esq, an active member of the Florida Bar and admitted to practice before the United States District Court Southern District of Florida and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; Gary Goldfarb of Interport Logistics; UPS Americas Region; and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

According to Dr. Peristeris, one of his favorite memories of arriving in Miami was when the airplane was landing at the Miami International Airport, “It was late evening, I watched out of the window just a few minutes before landing and I saw all these lights… of a “flat” city… it really impressed me a lot. I took a photo too!”

When asked about what the COVID-19 pandemic has presented in his community, he explained, “In Greece we have been very lucky, because our government took very early and very serious measures. Just after the first Greek victim of the virus happened on March 10th, 2020 the government closed schools, universities, public services, shops, hotels and restaurants.” Dr. Peristeris said that only supermarkets and drug stores were opened. “People were not allowed to move without special permission and as a result, from March until May, we had 165 victims and 2,836 infected people (Dr. Peristeris reports the population of Greece at: 11,000,000).” He added although measures have eased, there are still protective practices continuing. “The Greek government has done a great job, but now the Greek people should do the rest for our safety.” Dr. Peristeris acknowledged the negative economic impact in the Greek economy but said that the philosophy of his people is that “lives are more important than business.” “Actually, we are used to such a situation, given the latest economic crisis that Greece faced for almost ten years,” added Dr. Peristeris. As he commented on the impacts of social isolation during the pandemic, Dr. Peristeris stated, “I’m 100% satisfied with my small contribution to my country, even if I had to “give up” my social life, at least my friends, family and relatives are all fine and still here.” Dr. Peristeris shared that his birthday was May 9th and that his boss, the Secretary General, and his colleagues, organized a surprise birthday party for him in his office. “It was my first Coronavirus birthday party, but it was special.”

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