The choice facing the people of Portugal
Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary, Amora, Seixal Rally of the 2015 Avante! Festival September 6, 2015
It is with great joy that we salute all those who, with their presence, make this Avante! Festival the great Festival of April, the builders, participants and guests, representatives of international delegations, our friends from the Ecologist Party “The Greens” and from the Democratic Intervention Association and independents who together with us comprise the CDU [United Democratic Coalition – Coligação Democrática Unitária].
A special salute to the youth and to JCP [The Portuguese Communist Youth – Juventude Comunista Portuguesa] who, both in the construction and in participation, are a living proof of a Festival full of future and great confidence!
A confidence all the more founded when we decided to make our Festival bigger and more beautiful, by acquiring the land of Quinta do Cabo, starting a fundraising campaign that is underway and at a good pace. We would like to express our gratitude, of course, to the members and friends of the Party, and also to many other democrats enabling us to affirm today that we are more than halfway from the target we set ourselves and that the goal will be reached by next April as was our purpose and next year, in the fortieth anniversary of the Avante! Festival, the new space will be ready to be enjoyed by all our visitors.
Only a Party which has an unwavering confidence in its struggle, in its project and in Portugal with a future could take this bold decision!
Confidence in the struggle of the workers and peoples from all over the world, of which this Festival is also an expression, as the festival of solidarity and internationalism, a meeting point of dozens and dozens of foreign delegations who bring us the strength of their solidarity and confidence emanating from the struggle of their peoples.
Here we are those who in various countries from every continent truly want to change the world. A change all the more necessary since the international situation is increasingly marked by great instability, insecurity and injustice.
The deepening of capitalism’s structural crisis is here marking the present. Capitalism’s economic and financial crisis is far from over, expressing itself in many different ways and in all parts of the globe.
What we see everywhere is a violent sharpening of imperialist aggressiveness. In a world marked by important processes of rearrangement of forces it is increasingly clear that the major imperialist powers do not accept the loss of their hegemonic domination and bet on militarism and war to try to keep it.
Sources of tension multiply and expand in various parts of the globe, carrying out criminal operations of destabilization and foreign interference.
70 years after the victory over Nazi-fascism, which we are celebrating, fascism raises its head in various regions of the globe. This is clearly visible in Ukraine, where a putschist power of the oligarchy and fascist groups, supported by the US and the European Union attacks its own people and persecutes the democrats of that country – which includes the communists, victims of terrorism and illegalization. To the Ukrainian communists who are present here, we would like to express our solidarity and support.
Recent news have shown us shocking images of hundreds of thousands of human beings who come to Europe or die on its doorstep, fleeing war, poverty, unemployment, destruction of their countries. They flee from countries like Syria, Iraq and Libya, among others. All countries subject to processes of interference and imperialist domination, wars of aggression unleashed by the US and the European Union.
In answer to hypocritical speeches, we affirm: it is necessary to respond to the humanitarian drama, respect the rights of these human beings, creating conditions for a real integration. But it is necessary, also and above all, to tackle the causes – and the causes lie in the policy of the US, NATO and the European Union – in the destabilization and plunder of the resources of these countries, imposing an end to aggression and not creating others, whatever the pretext, including the false pretext of concern for the refugees.
That is the great need that emerges from the analysis of the international situation. Strive for the progress of the people, for the sovereign development of States, fight for peace, against militarism and disregard for international law. Fight against the war plans, against NATO which increasingly asserts as a major threat to international security and which will carry out in Portugal and other European countries, in a few weeks, one of the largest military exercises in its history.
It is in fact the struggle and the construction of a broad unity around the objective of anti-monopoly, anti-imperialist struggle, which emerges from the international situation we live in. That’s why we want, today, from this rostrum, to salute all the peoples who struggle!
We salute all those who, under sometimes very difficult conditions, undertake decisive battles, resisting, particularly, the aggressions and imperialist occupations, as in the Middle East and Central Asia. A salute that we address, in a special way, to the Palestinian people and their struggle for the right to an independent, sovereign and viable homeland, and also to the Syrian people in their struggle for their rights, for peace, sovereignty and independence of their Country.
In the year when we mark here at the Avante! Festival 40 years of liberation from Portuguese colonialism by various African countries – Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe – we also want to salute those who in Africa, continue to struggle against neo-colonial attempts and also those who like the Sahrawi people continue to struggle for the right to self-determination.
And if we salute all those who resist under difficult conditions, we also salute those who blaze the trail of social justice, affirmation of national sovereignty and socialism. From here we send a warm greeting to the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean and the communist parties and progressive forces of that region, peoples who are subjected to a renewed and dangerous counter-offensive by imperialism, particularly in Bolivarian Venezuela, Ecuador or Brazil. But if that offensive should concern us, from there also blow winds of confidence like the outcome of the liberation of the five Cuban patriots, a great victory! A living example that the slogan “Cuba will prevail” is full of sense and content and that it always pays to stand up and fight.
Resist and struggle also here in Europe.
Our Country is, together with other European countries, one of the main victims of the process of European capitalist integration which is crushing rights and sovereignty on this continent.
If anyone had doubts on the nature of the European Union they can now be dispelled. Capitalism’s crisis further enhanced the neoliberal, militarist and federalist pillars of the European Union. The last few years, and the most recent events, have proved that the European Union’s solidarity and cohesion was, and is, a huge lie. Reality proves PCP right when it says that the European Union is a project of domination of peoples and countries by large multinationals and a directory of powers.
We affirm today, as we have always affirmed, that in Europe there are sufficient forces to tread different paths. Paths that reject the trampling of national sovereignties, the exploitation of workers and depletion of the resources and wealth of the countries.
Other paths that are both necessary and possible. That should be treaded boldly, with principles, truth and determination, implementing the necessary ruptures!
No! We do not accept, as we have never accepted, theories of inevitability!
Timeliness of socialism
The sharpening of the class struggle and capitalism’s increasingly exploitative, oppressive, aggressive and predatory nature demonstrates, increasingly, the timeliness and importance of the communist project, of a new society, of socialism and communism. This is the big prospect of struggle that, in different ways and stages, the workers and the people face.
The PCP, a patriotic and internationalist party is here, fighting major battles. To all of you we affirm that you can rely on this Portuguese Communist Party and its contribution to the broader struggle for the emancipation of the workers and peoples.
The serious situation of decline, regression, dependence and impoverishment in which Portugal finds itself cannot be dissociated from years of European capitalist integration and its roster of impositions, and also not dissociated from years and years of ruinous right-wing policy and of national submission, executed by the PSD [The Social Democratic Party – Partido Social Democrata], PS [The Socialist Party – Partido Socialista] and CDS [People’s Party – Partido Popular, derived from Centro Democrático e Social] governments.
Successive years of right-wing policy, with consequences on the life of the Country and of the Portuguese during the period of the last two governments, with the application of three Stability and Growth Pacts – SGPs – by the PS government and a Programme of a so-called Financial Assistance, but in fact of interference and aggression and which weakened and ruined the country even more.
Yes, they were the ones who all together – PSD, PS and CDS – placed the country into the hands of foreigners and their programme of plunder and social terrorism.
It was with their active connivance, their arrangements and the fallacious pretext of an imminent bankruptcy that they imposed the policy of exploitation and impoverishment of the workers, of our people and the plunder of the country’s assets that we have been witnessing and which they aim to continue.
When Portugal is today a more impoverished, more fragile, more dependent country, we owe it to them and their policy of national disaster, of capitalist recovery and monopolist restoration.
When we have a country marked by economic stagnation for a decade and a half and a sharp fall of the GDP, more than 6% in these years of the policy of the troikas, with the destruction of thousands of companies and jobs, we owe it to them, to the PS, PSD and CDS and their policy of privatization and destruction of national productive sectors and, with the Euro, the alienation of our budgetary, monetary and exchange rate sovereignty.
If today we have a dramatic social situation with high levels of unemployment that affect one million two hundred thousand Portuguese, brutal levels of job precariousness, drastic cuts in labour income and of large sections of the population, we owe it to them, to the PSD, PS and CDS and their policy of continuous aggravation of labour exploitation.
If thousands of Portuguese have their salaries, pensions and retirement extorted and degraded and see their most basic labour rights destroyed, a situation that affected all sectors, with particular impact on Public Administration workers, they owe it to them, and their deliberate policy of transferring to the people losses from speculative banking and big business activities.
If in the last five years more than 500 thousand Portuguese were forced to migrate, we owe it to them, to the PSD, PS and CDS and their strategy of impoverishment of the people and their policy of destruction of jobs, and of the national scientific and research system.
If today we have a country plundered of its resources and strategic companies increasingly handed over to foreigners and subject to their domination, we owe it to them and their policy of national abdication.
Portugal today has an unsustainable debt and a suffocating debt service, mostly foreign owned, which paralyzes the country and drags it into an abyss, the Portuguese owe it to them and their policy of economic regression and allegiance to the international centres of capitalism and speculation.
If Portugal witnessed growing corruption and economic and financial fraud, promiscuity between public and private interests with an increasing submission of political power to economic power, we owe it to them, to the PSD, PS and CDS and their policy at the service of big business and instrumentalization of the State in favour of large economic groups.
If we have a country which is long riddled with a profound fiscal injustice, worsened by the greatest increase in taxes on labour income in living memory, we owe it to them, and particularly this PSD/CDS government and their policy of national confiscation.
If the country has, in these years of SGP and Pact of Aggression, a state of serious decline in access to rights to health, education, social protection and culture, with cuts and attacks lashed on the NHS, Public Schools, Social Security and liquidation and weakening of the system of social benefits, we owe it to them, to the PS, PSD and CDS and their policy of reconfiguration of the State in favour of large groups and their businesses, dismantling the achievements of April and in confrontation with the Constitution of the Republic.
If Portugal is a country increasingly unequal, socially and territorially, where poverty came knocking on the door of hundreds of thousands of people – over 800,000 in the last four years of this government, raising to 2 million and 700,000 Portuguese living below the poverty line – we owe it to them, their decisions bound to the policies of the troika and their policy of centralization and concentration of wealth in the hands of the lords of money and power.
These are the ones whose wealth continues to grow. With the rich getting richer, with the 25 largest fortunes in the country once again having their assets growing!
Yes, the crisis that has spread to all sectors of national life, including Justice, Local Government and the democratic regime itself, has authors: – they are the PS, PSD and CDS, and their governments!
Yes, if the country’s situation is as it is, is due to them!
It is their policy that we has to defeated, not only the government on duty!
That is why these October 4 elections for the Assembly of the Republic are so important and just as important as the fight that the workers and our people have been waging.
This intense struggle that the workers, the Portuguese people have been carrying out to uphold their interests and rights, in resistance to the offensive of big business and the political power at their service, always with a view to make a rupture with the policy of exploitation, impoverishment and national disaster.
From here we salute the workers, the youth, the retired and pensioners, the users of public services, the small and medium-size entrepreneurs, the small and medium-size farmers, the fishermen, people with disabilities, the unemployed, the military, the professionals of forces of security, all those who took in their hands the resistance and the struggle for rights, against social regression, for a better life, for a developed and sovereign country.
Resistance and struggle without which the offensive of big business would have gone further, that isolated socially and politically the PSD/CDS government and points the way that will lead to their defeat.
A struggle that had the strength and the role of the broad united trade union movement, the CGTP-IN [The General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers – Confederação Geral dos Trabalhadores Portugueses], the great trade union central of the Portuguese workers. A struggle that had the communists at the forefront of its execution, that had the active intervention and solidarity of PCP.
The struggle of the workers of a broad anti-monopoly social front, enabled to isolate a government whose defeat the people are now called to confirm with their vote in the important electoral battle for the Assembly of the Republic that is near. We won the battle against resignation and inevitabilities; we will win the battle for a rupture and a change.
We are a month away from the elections, a battle of undeniable importance for the evolution of the national situation in the foreseeable future. Important for what they represent and the objectives associated with them, which means choosing those who can effectively ensure the defence of the interests and rights of the Portuguese people. Important to affirm, with confidence, the prospect, necessity and possibility of an alternative policy, patriotic and left-wing, to ensure a better life in Portugal with a future.
The necessity and urgency of a rupture with the right-wing policy to stop the course of economic decline and social regression, emerges as a national imperative, a patriotic demand!
There are strong reasons for our confidence in the possibility of a firm and decisive step, with the reinforcement of CDU and the strength of the people and their struggle, to create the conditions for a rupture and a necessary change in our national policy and life.
Confidence which does not underestimate nor the means nor the capacity for dissimulation by the forces that seek, at all cost, to perpetuate the right-wing policy and hinder the affirmation and realization of a patriotic and left-wing alternative.
There we have them, using the most diverse artificial means to shuffle and deal once more the rigged game of alternation without alternative and pursue the same path of drowning the country.
All of them waving with new virtuous cycles of recovery, and guaranteeing the solution to the problems that they never solved, only worsened.
All of them masking their identify and affiliation to the same political matrix that structures their main options and political orientations, over blowing tenuous secondary differences among them, concealing their real aims and projects for the future.
PSD and CDS, instrumentalizing the State apparatus and public monies to garner electoral support, at the same time as they launch fraudulent propaganda operations, with recourse to fantastic interpretations of statistical indicators, trying to present a trail of destruction left by four years of their government as a success.
They proclaim themselves liberators of the homeland. The homeland they themselves, shamelessly, also turned over to the bankers.
These are the false liberators that we see, with elections coming closer, running around throughout the country promising everything to everyone and announcing solutions for everything. But, in reality, what prevails is a logic of fait accompli, a scorched earth policy, quite evident in the accelerated delivery of the SCTP [public transport system in Porto], in the decision three days ago to dismantle the Military Lab, a centennial institution, another emblematic case of a policy that devalues our security, our sovereignty and our productive sector.
They wave the Greek situation around, to make it their lifejacket. But what the events in Greece demonstrate is the imperious need for resistance and struggle against the blackmails, pressures and impositions of the Euro and European Union. What they demonstrate is how PCP was right, that there is no solution without renegotiating the debt, without liberation from the constraints of the Euro that condition the sovereign development of countries. What they demonstrate is that the paths that one need follow and that are possible need to be built with courage, with principles, truth and determination, leading to the necessary ruptures and believing always in the power and strength of the people’s struggle.
Therefore, whatever they promise or say, the Portuguese won’t forget the nightmare of their governance. As they won’t forget that their true program is the one they sent to Brussels – the National Reform Program – based on the intensification of the policy of disasters of the previous four years, and therefore nothing will save them from a profound defeat!
This is our deep conviction, sure that the people with not fail with their vote, their vote in CDU, to defeat them!
But if PSD and CDS are hiding that their true program is tied to the guidelines of big national and transnational capital, the Socialist Party (PS) is following the same path.
Behind much propaganda, what PS, PSD and CDS are preparing for after the elections, if they have the necessary votes, are measures to deepen exploitation, devaluing wages and increasing precariousness, amputating social security, attacking pensions and the retired, the National Health Service, the Public School, Culture, the democratic Local Power, the democratic regime and national sovereignty.
That is their real program.
To give credibility to their false programs and to a policy that failed and ruined the Country, they mud wrestle with scenarios, projections, simulations, calculations and sums that only serve to throw sand into the eyes of the Portuguese!
In the October 4th elections, the workers and people have the opportunity to translate their vote in CDU into a condemnation of the parties of the right-wing and troika.
On October 4th, the Portuguese people have two options:
Support and vote for CDU and therefore break with the policies of disaster that have brought so many privations and condemn those responsible; or, on the contrary, vote for the parties of the arc of right-wing policy and allow them, for a few more years, to pursue exploitation, impoverishment, the submission of the country.
Support and give strength to the patriotic and left-wing policy that CDU proposes or give a free pass to PS, PSD and CDS to prolong and intensify the policy that has led the country into ruin.
For CDU there is no hesitation. CDU is and will be always beside the workers and people, ready to assume all the responsibilities the Portuguese people want to attribute to it in the country’s government, bearer of a patriotic and left-wing policy capable of solving the national problems.
As the great strength of sovereignty and national independence, the great strength of unity and democratic convergence, the great strength of true and political seriousness, that assumes and presents a past of truth, of renowned respect for giving their word, which life gave and gives reason: the great strength of combat to the right-wing policy, that marked the presence in all the moments and locations where it was necessary to affirm rights, fight injustices, defend jobs, schedules and wages: the great strength of an alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy, tied to the values of April!
On October 4th we can affirm with rigor that a vote for CDU is a vote for truth, work, honesty and competency.
A vote that counts to defeat the government and its policy, but also condemn the parties – PS, PSD and CDS – who signed the pact with the foreign troika.
A vote that decides for a patriotic and left-wing policy, that will never fail solutions to defend the rights and incomes of the workers and people.
A vote in a force in who the workers and people have always counted on, and know they can count on, at the time it is necessary to fight injustices, that did not desert them when it was necessary to fight the present government.
A vote against absolute majorities and against the maneuvers and pressures of the President to guarantee a right-wing policy, either by the hand of PSD/CDS or PS.
Concerned with guaranteeing the continuity of right-wing policy, we see them trying to frighten the people with polls, fabricated with technical draws, with false disputes between putative prime-ministers.
There are no polls that can save PSD and CDS from defeat. On the contrary, what even the polls reveal is that PSD and CDS will suffer one of their most heavy defeats.
What is decided on October 4th is the election of 230 parliament members.
What is decided is the choice of MPs committed with the aspirations of the people and building an alternative policy like those of CDU, or MPs from PS, PSD and CDS who will do nothing other than continue to decide against the workers and people.
Yes, the true options on October 4th are not choosing between Passos and Costa [leaders of PSD/CDS and PS, respectively], but choosing between continuing the same policy or opting for a rupture and change, voting for CDU!
Now PS stands up on tiptoe and warns about the PSD/CDS boogey man. Where was PS during the last 4 years? Watching the destruction of country comfortably, collaborating with the government and the parties that support them, in many of their decisions.
On October 4th, every additional vote for CDU, every additional MP elected by CDU is a one less vote, one less MP from those parties that are responsible for this policy that over the last 39 years has stolen rights and incomes.
No, the workers and people will not exchange the certain for the uncertain, the security and confidence that CDU gives them for support and votes in others that, in name of a PSD/CDS defeat, will then use them to pursue a right-wing policy. Despite the propaganda and maneuvers, one thing is clear: it is not with who has thrown Portugal to the depths that the Country can find a solution!
There are those that hasten to say there is no alternative to a policy of exploitation and impoverishment, that one can’t escape the impositions of the European Union, that the country doesn’t have resources capable of sustaining any other policy.
We know very well who elaborates this discourse and whose interests it serves.
It is reality itself that places a rupture with the right-wing policy as a national imperative. A rupture that is no mere decorative measure, but assumes a project of development for the Country, placing at the centre of its action the interests and needs of our people and country. A policy we know is necessary, possible and doable.
Doable with the strength and struggle of the workers and Portuguese people, with economic growth as a decisive and strategic factor, with a determined and firm affirmation of the right of the Country to a sovereign development.
Doable given the mobilization of resources that will result from the renegotiation of the debt.
Doable with the results that the fiscal policy we propose will permit.
Doable with the recovery of important amounts of money, today buried in the disastrous businesses of the PPPs and swaps.
From our part:
Instead of the continuation of transferring wealth to big capital via the more than 8 billion euros annually in debt interest, PCP proposes the renegotiation of that debt, in its schedule, rates and amounts, significantly reducing its annual charges.
Instead of the continuation of submission to the demands of the European Union, PCP proposes the decoupling of Portugal from the Budgetary Treaty and the mechanisms of the so-called Economic Governance, to recover and affirm national sovereignty, as well as studying and preparing Portugal liberation from the submission of the Euro.
Instead of cuts in wages, pensions and other incomes, PCP proposes returning what was stolen, valuing work and workers, defending their rights as a condition for development, inverting the path of precariousness, of miserable wages, including the fixation of a National Minimum Wage of 600€ from the beginning of 2016.
Instead of a continuation of a policy that abdicates national production, PCP defends the unpostponable defense of our Country’s agriculture, fisheries and industry. Produce more in order to owe less, create jobs and surpass the chronic deficits of our national economy.
Instead of a policy that reconfigures the State, placing it at the service of big economic interests, PCP proposes the defense of public services and the social functions of the State – the National Health System, the Public School, Social Security and Culture.
Instead of the continuation of a policy of privatizations, PCP proposes recovering the public control over strategic sectors of our economy, starting with the banking sector. Immediately stopping and reverting the ongoing processes, such as the privatizations of TAP, CP Carga, Carris, the Lisbon Subway, SCTP and Porto Subway, the New Bank and others.
Instead of deepening an unjust fiscal policy, PCP proposes fiscal relief for workers and people, as well as micro- and small business. Fighting tax evasion, ending the scandalous fiscal benefits, taxing big capital.
Instead of the continuation of a policy of capturing public resources by economic groups, PCP proposes an end to so-called public-private partnerships, to numerous concessions and ruinous contracts for the state, fighting the unbearable promiscuity between political and economic power, and corruption.
These and other proposals, more that resulting from our conditions and the project we have for the Country, are mostly a necessity and an aspiration of the Portuguese people.
Solutions that are part of a patriotic and left-wing policy, tied to national interests and that are also a basis for dialogue and convergence with other forces and democratic sectors that do not give up on a Portugal with a future.
We are in a decisive moment in the life of our Country. The situation is serious!
PCP has alerted, predicted, resisted, furthered the struggles, presented the alternative. Life has shown us in the right.
Today, the same as usual, big capital and the parties in their service, prepare the continuation and deepening of this policy of exploitation, impoverishment, liquidation of rights, that jeopardizes the democratic regime and the existence of Portugal as a nation and a sovereign and independent country.
PCP has fulfilled and fulfills its role, it embodies difference, in an incomparable action based on its party collective, a militant intervention which is ability, strength and example.
The Party reinforces itself and faces, with confidence, the need and possibility of its further reinforcement.
Here we can testify the framework of the action “More organization, more intervention, more influence – a stronger PCP”, the success of the recruitment campaign “The values of April in the future of Portugal” with 2 thousand new militants, a largely surpassed objective, with a high number of youth and women.
From here we salute the new militants, the Party organizations and militants, the communist youth, JCP – the Portuguese Communist Youth.
The workers, youth, the Portuguese people, the Country needs a stronger PCP. It is a necessity, an objective we assume with confidence, more recruitments, furthering the contact campaign, broadening militancy, more organization, namely in companies and work places, intensifying propaganda and disseminating the party press, namely the Avante!, and new steps in guaranteeing the financial independence of the Party.
A stronger Party to fight for a rupture with the right wing policy and a patriotic and left-wing alternative, for realizing a Program of “An advanced democracy – the values of April in the future of Portugal”.
A stronger Party, reaffirming its communist identity. Yes, all the Party reinforcement we have achieved and want to achieve is towards making the Party stronger and more influential, with the essential characteristics that define it, with its nature of a Party of the working class and all workers, its objective of building a new society, socialism and communism, its theoretical basis Marxism-Leninism, its working principles derived from the creative development of democratic centralism, a profound internal democracy, a single central leadership and a single general orientation, and its characteristic as a patriotic and internationalist Party.
An identity, an ideal and project based on the strength of our convictions and the justice of our fight and that today the world’s reality make even more relevant.