Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary, Rally commemorating PCP's 98th anniversary «With the workers and the people - Democracy and Socialism»

«98 years of history inseparable from the struggle of the Portuguese workers and people»

Our fraternal greetings on this very special day of commemoration of the 98th. anniversary of our Portuguese Communist Party.

A very special greeting to the Portuguese women on this day when the International Women's Day is celebrated, and also remembering the role of communist women and of this Party in the struggle for decades for equality in work, law and life, and reaffirm our support for their initiatives, action and struggle to combat inequalities, in defence of their dignity and their civilizational causes.

On March 6, 98 years have gone by since the creation of the Portuguese Communist Party. Ninety eight years of uninterrupted struggle and unlimited dedication to the emancipating cause of the working class and workers, of our people.

We celebrate 98 years of a Party born of the Portuguese labour movement, by its own will and decision, in a climate of revolutionary ascent, resulting from the struggles waged by the Portuguese workers and the galvanizing effect of the Socialist Revolution of October 1917.

Born in that distant year of 1921 to respond to a historical need of the Portuguese labour movement which in its evolution set as its task a determined intervention of transformation of society, marking the beginning of a new stage of the labour movement in Portugal and of the struggle for the construction of a society freed from the exploitation of man by another man.

These are 98 years of history inseparable from the struggle of the workers and Portuguese people.

Always with its class nature, its identity, its ideology - Marxism-Leninism - always enriched by experience and life, organised, firm, coherent, united, combative, it was able in the most diverse situations and conditions to face difficulties, overcome them and advance, confirming in the present all its glorious past.

When reviewing 98 years of activity, when recalling its history, learning from its main lessons, we find in the 98 years of struggle reasons for determination and confidence, the PCP has its eyes turned towards the future: for the reinforcement of the Party, for the strengthening of the organisation, for the reinforcement of its connection with the masses, for the unity of the workers and of the democrats, for the struggle for a break with right-wing policies, for the patriotic and left-wing alternative, for the Advanced Democracy with the Values of April, for the socialist future of Portugal.

When celebrating its 98th. anniversary, the PCP also reaffirms its policy to serve the interests of the people and the country, its action and intervention to uphold the interests of the working class and all workers, to free the country from the constraints and impositions of the European Union and the Euro, for national sovereignty, to build the political, patriotic and left-wing alternative, while reaffirming its internationalist stands.

Not only it does not forget but promotes solidarity with all peoples and countries that are victims of imperialism’s oppression, exploitation, interference and aggression. A patriotic and internationalist Party, the PCP reaffirms its full solidarity with the peoples struggling for the affirmation of sovereignty, for the right to choose their own way, for Peace, for sovereignty, for development, for progress.

In these 98 years, the PCP confirms in the present all its glorious past. The balance of the past, the present activity and the outlook of the future affirm the importance, role and value of the PCP in national life. The past is the proof, the present the testimony, the future the confidence.

This year we have an added reason to celebrate and express not only our joy and confidence in this Party that is here united and combative, but also because in this year of 2019 45 years have passed since 25th. April, the date of the military uprising that overthrew the fascist government, and which was immediately seconded by the popular uprising, which with its military component, formed the People/ Armed Forces alliance, a determining factor of the revolutionary process.

We have an added reason why this Portuguese Communist Party which is the Party of the working class and of all the workers, is also and with much pride, the Party of April.

The April Revolution that profoundly transformed Portuguese society and constituted an affirmation of the will of the people, of national sovereignty and independence.

It institutionalised a democratic political regime, and implemented profound economic, social and cultural transformations.

With the counter-revolutionary process begun in 1976, the right-wing policy pursued by successive PS, PSD and CDS governments, alone or in conjunction, attacked and destroyed many of these achievements by imposing limitations on democracy and sovereignty.

In these more than 40 years of struggle between the monopolistic restoration forces and the forces for the progress and well-being of the people, the PCP was the only one that was always with the workers and the populations, in the defence of their interests, their rights and aspirations, and in the defence of the democratic regime, of sovereignty and national independence.

This is the same Party that now completes 98 years of existence that continues with all the determination at the forefront of the fight in defence of the interests of the workers, our people and the country.

A combat waged on several fronts. In the defence and valorisation of work and workers for the restoration of rights and incomes extorted in the years of SGP and Troika, through the hands of PS, PSD and CDS governments.

Demanding the reversal of the grievous norms of labour legislation that the PS government persists in taking for granted with the proposals that it has presented in the Assembly of the Republic, maintaining with the already explicit support of PSD and CDS the expiry of the collective bargaining, the refusal to introduce the principle of more favourable treatment to the worker and the maintenance of precarious work.

A combat that remains open and demanding our firm commitment and the firm response and determination of the Portuguese workers and their struggle, aiming to stop the aims set down in this spurious agreement aligning these parties, big business and the UGT and which the PS government reflected into its legislative initiative.

But also demanding the valorisation of wages in the private and public sectors and the increase of the National Minimum Wage to 650 Euros for all workers. A demand of those who, like the PCP, do not accept, nor take for granted, the current and unfair distribution of National Income!

A combat that continues also in defence of public services putting them at the service of the people and the country, not of business and profit, namely by valorising the National Health Service, by restoring the levels of efficiency, funding, human and technical resources, gradually and deliberately called into question by successive governments, particularly by the governments of the first decade and a half of this twenty-first century, and by the implementation of a policy that will put an end to the transfer to private groups, especially with the end of PPPs. A policy that ends with the chronic underfunding of healthcare facilities, ends co-payments, promotes the professional and material valorisation of the professionals in the NHS, and assigns a family doctor and nurse to all Portuguese.

Public services to serve the people and the country, also in the transport sector, taking further this combat that we have successfully waged - the valorisation and extension of the intermodal pass that the intervention of this Party that now 98 completes years has become reality and will mean a significant reduction of the costs in the use of public transport for hundreds of thousands of users. Maximum of 40 euros for the pass valid for the entire Metropolitan Area and 30 euros for the pass valid in each municipality, pass for students and the forthcoming family pass, free use for children up to 12 years and pass for people over 65 years, besides this additional bonus, are a huge advance in the living conditions of the families and in stimulating the use of public transport.

A measure that crowns the struggle of years not only of our Party, but also of the users of the public transport services.

We must now move decisively forward to increase the transport offer, demanding State investment in the modernisation and expansion of rail, road and river transport offer. Yes, it is now necessary to move ahead to increase the public transport offer and to affirm a public transport service to serve the population and not PPP businesses.

To move ahead in this front of struggle for the right to housing, increasing the steps taken with the contribution of the PCP in the protection of residents and tenants with the implementation of a policy that ensures the constitutional right to housing of the Portuguese.

These are combats of a Party that does not turn away from the struggle under any circumstances. A Party that, with courage, has faced the most difficult and complex situations, always pointing to solutions to move the country forward.

This was the case three and a half years ago. It was this almost 100 year-old Party that, giving expression to a long and prolonged struggle of the workers and our people, took the initiative and pointed out the way and the solution that would lead to the defeat and dismissal of the PSD/CDS government and to the interruption of the march to a political action of aggravation of the exploitation, impoverishment, decline and severe setback that fell on the workers, the people and the country, putting an end to the development of a project of democratic subversion that was underway and promised to expand.

It was the PCP that, interpreting the popular will, expressed in the ballot, evaluating the new correlation of forces in the Assembly of the Republic, stepped forward and did not waste the opportunity, with the struggle of the workers and the people and its own action, initiative and political intervention, to defend, restore and conquer rights.

Important steps forward were taken during this period, which we defined as the new phase of national political life, which enabled the improvement of the living conditions of the workers and the people. With the mass struggle and the decisive initiative of the PCP, it was possible to recover wages, valorise retirement and pensions, cut taxes on labour, demand measures to reduce precariousness, support families by freeing them from education costs, restore unemployment and sickness benefits and increase family allowances, reduce healthcare co-payments, implement the end of the income tax pre-payment by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and other initiatives that resulted in the restoration of rights and income, and which altogether meant a decisive factor for economic growth and job creation.

A whole evolution that shows and proves that it is worth struggling and persisting, because nothing drops from the sky, nothing is given, everything has to be conquered and, in the end, everything was actually conquered with initiative, struggle and persistence!

Yes, it was with the workers' and people's struggle and the political intervention of the PCP that advances were made, even against the will and resistance of the PS minority government.

After more than three years, the justness and validity of the analysis and guideline established by the Party in the new phase of national political life resulting from the October 2015 elections is confirmed.

What has been achieved, albeit limited, is beyond what many thought possible, within a framework and context where the government of the country is not left-wing. We have a government that maintains the essential axis of right-wing policy guidelines, but it does not have enough MPs, nor the conditions to decide its own policy - the policy it has always carried out for more than 40 years, alone or together with the PSD and the CDS .It is because essentially such an axis remains that the minority government of the PS is unable to respond to the great national problems and postpones them, even worsens them.
The truth is that the PS and its minority government, due to class option, did not solve nor proved itself capable of solving the country's serious structural deficits, which remain a lasting consequence of right-wing policy, at the head of which is the production deficit.

The PS and its minority government, bound, like the PSD and CDS, to the impositions and constraints of the European Union and the Euro, and maintaining the option of favouring the interests of the monopolies, did not promote the necessary policy to reverse the process of the country’s decline.

Linked to the fundamental options that serve the monopoly groups, the PS government with the support of the PSD and CDS not only keeps intact the structure and domination of the economic groups on the strategic sectors and on the whole of the national economy, while continuing to channel large resources of the country for their benefit.

Resources that are drained abroad in dividends, but also in interest on a public debt that needs to be renegotiated. Hundred thousand million euros consumed just in interest since joining the Euro that the country is lacking to promote the development of its productive sectors, public investment, improvement of healthcare services or public education or that force the postponement of the solution of the more important social and economic problems, but also of investment in the country's development.

But while there is no money to invest in the country's development, there is no shortage for banks and bankers, for big economic and financial capital. Seventeen thousand million euros buried in fraudulent banking businesses. And it will not remain here, as we are witnessing with the bill that the Novo Banco presented this week for the country to pay.

More than 1100 million euros, to add to the 4000 million euros spent by the Portuguese State for the Resolution of Espírito Santo Bank (BES) and the 2000 million euros requested by the Novo Banco after its sale to Lone Star, a figure that can globally reach more than 8 thousand million euros.

This is the result, once again, of the European Commission's impositions, which PS, PSD and CDS have accepted, from the BES Resolution until the sale of the Novo Banco to Lone Star. It is necessary to stop this process of the sale of the Bank and to return it to the public sphere, as the PCP has long proposed, because as we have stated: if the State pays the Bank, the State must manage the Bank to serve the people and country!

Contrary to what was necessary to do to defend national interests, the PS and its minority government have created a misleading perspective of solving our national problems, maintaining the submission to the straightjacket of the constraints and impositions of the European Union, affirming its compatibility with a project of development of the country that life is refuting and will continue to refute.

It refutes the evolution of the country's economy and the rates of economic growth, already in decline and well below what is necessary to recover years of delay. There is a need to continue to raise the living conditions of the people that are conducive to growth and employment, but other solutions are also needed. It is necessary to respond in the investment plan for the country to leave the frustrating levels of economic growth of the last twenty years. It is necessary for the country to free itself from the strangleholds of the Budgetary Treaty, the Stability Pact, Economic Governance, the ever-tightening of constraints, rules and norms blocking the affirmation of a policy of sovereign development capable of overcoming the huge delays and setbacks of recent years.

Portugal will not get out of the doldrums in which the right-wing and submissive policies have placed with average growth rates of 0.85%, as in the last 20 years. Portugal needs to grow well above what it grows today!

In the current situation, affirming the right of the country to its sovereign development is a crucial condition.

It is urgent to break with the disastrous path that has made Portugal an increasingly unfair, more dependent, less democratic country with weakened public services, with the permanent alienation of strategic sectors, resources, productive capacity and sovereignty. It is necessary and it is possible to move forward.

That is why we are striving to materialise a patriotic and left-wing alternative and a government that will carry it out, in order to respond to the problems of the workers, of the people and of the country.

The development, expansion and intensification of the mass struggle is a fundamental and decisive issue, based on concrete and immediate claims, converging on the demand for a break with right-wing policies and the affirmation of a patriotic and left-wing policy.

We welcome the struggles of the workers and populations that are underway for the restoration and achievement of rights and for the defence and valorisation of public services.

And we appeal to everyone's commitment to the mobilisation and participation in the actions that will be held in the coming times, in particular - the National Demonstration of Women on March 9 promoted by the MDM, the Demonstration of Working Youth on March 28, the popular Commemorations of the 45th. anniversary of 25th. April and 1st. of May, the great day of struggle of Portuguese workers, called by the CGTP-IN.

This year of 2019 is a year of major electoral battles. These are very demanding combats for all of us and with great influence on the evolution of national political life in the coming years, especially those with national expression - the elections for the European Parliament and for the Assembly of the Republic.
These are electoral battles waged in a national and international context where we have elements that show that reactionary, political and economic forces are doing everything, without looking at means, not only to save and perpetuate right-wing policies, but also to resume fully and expeditiously its project of aggravated exploitation and impoverishment of the workers and the people and of subversion of the Constitution. Forces that count on the complacency and connivance of all those, like the PS, that do not break with their longstanding political options.

Electoral battles whose outcome may contribute to enhance the visible risks of regression of the lives of the Portuguese or make an important contribution by strengthening the CDU to break with the right-wing policy and build the patriotic and left-wing political alternative with a government that gives it expression - this central question to move the country forward!

Yes, the Portuguese are faced with decisive choices in this year 2019, between choosing to turn backwards, return to the path that PS, PSD and CDS have imposed in the last four decades or to advance breaking the chains that bind us to the past and to the submission that led the country to backwardness, and affirming a true alternative policy to serve the people and the country.

These electoral battles that lie ahead, each having its own specificity, are battles that demand that they be assumed as a single battle, in which each adds and launches into the next battle.

The first of this year's great electoral battles is there - the election for MEPs and, because it is the first one, it is of particular importance because we must do everything to make this the beginning of a path of conquest and advancement of the CDU!

It is the first moment of important and decisive choices that are placed on our people. The choice between electing a European Parliament to defend the workers and the people, or support those who subject the country to the European Union's impositions.

What matters is to have in the European Union, in the European Parliament those who defend the interests of the people and the country. That is, MPs elected by the CDU.

Is to know whether we boldly affirm the sovereign right of the country to its development or whether we accept the continuation of this national oppression. If we accept that the deepening of the supranational project of economic and political domination that submits us to the dictates of great interests and great powers or if we affirm national sovereignty as a fundamental element of a progressive alternative.

Yes, the choice that is placed before the Portuguese on May 26 is between those who defend the submission of the country to the impositions and arbitrariness of the European Union - PS, PSD and CDS, or those who defend Portugal and give voice to the interests of workers and people - the CDU!

We know that the path that we need to build, the choice of the solution that is placed before the democrats and patriots, the workers and the people to advance and respond to the real problems that the Portuguese and the country face, are very demanding and full of hurdles.

In this phase the first obstacle was passed, the removal of the more retrograde and aggressive version of right-wing policy, but this right-wing policy of submission to the European Union and big business has not yet been defeated. This obstacle remains due to the options of the PS which with a change of the correlation of forces in its favour will represent new and strong resistance to the advancement of solutions of progress for the country and respect for the sovereignty of the Portuguese, jeopardizing the positive steps taken, and maintaining and aggravating all problems.

Hence, we need to clear the illusions of those who believed that an answer to the problems of the country had been given, which we objectively knew could not be achieved by maintaining such guidelines.

Today, with elections on the doorstep, they announce a new social contract for the youth. There is always a new social contract in every election for the European Union. They brandish the idea of a better and decent job. But can you be serious about their announcement of a new social contract for decent work, when they promote a social contract with the big employers that leaves the door open to job precariousness in exchange for the payment of a fee? It is not with measures of legitimizing precariousness that a decent job is guaranteed, but work without rights and underpaid is reinforced with such solutions!

We have to be prepared to refute all types of mystification and make it clear that the answer to face the national problems will not be found in the PS and its options, but by a change of the correlation of forces that ensures the reinforcement of PCP and CDU, a condition for the construction of an alternative policy.

Nor will the solution to the problems accumulated by years of right-wing policies find a response in the PSD and in the CDS, which are mainly responsible for the situation in the country.

And if the proof lies in their past, what we see today confirms it more. From the PSD and the CDS, what the Portuguese can hope for is the return to the path of social and economic regression, the liquidation of rights, the plunder of wages and incomes.

Behold how they speak with contempt of the measures taken in favour of the living conditions of the people. Even the increase in retirement and pensions brings a rash, particularly to Rangel [PSD’s head of list for MEP]!

The way they explain and heighten demagogically the difficulties faced today in certain sectors, difficulties created by themselves, and blame them on the policy of restoration of rights and income.

See how they increasingly play the game of subversion of the democratic regime with their so-called structural proposals that they now renew. There we have them again with the old litany of the reform of the State. Those State fats that need to be trimmed and that the Portuguese today feel when they need to go to a hospital or a public service. There we have Rui Rio with his reform of Social Security, the old counter-reform of Passos and Portas of random cuts in pensions and social benefits. Then we have them criticizing the subject of the reform of justice that they want governamentalized. There we have them waving a consensus on the regime with the PS to change electoral laws, subvert electoral representation, create artificial majorities and form turnover governments between PS and PSD with CDS on tow.

Portugal cannot turn back. It needs to move forward! Move forward with the PCP and with the strengthening of the CDU!

Particularly when we see the revanchist and big business forces playing on several scenarios, fostering and promoting various movements and political forces of reactionary nature and clearly against April, articulated campaigns of intense and systematic ideological action, including blatant whitewashing of fascism, with a view to confuse and mislead the workers and the popular masses, where manipulation, lies, actions of diversion and provocation are daily present in the public and media space.

They exploit the most sordid human situations to the utmost, instilling fears and doubts, inducing appeals for an authoritarian order, corruption itself is used not with the intention of fighting it at its roots - in the shady dealings of big business - but in order to slander everything that is public and hide its true beneficiaries. On a political level, they want to make believe that the Parties are all the same and thus create difficulties for an alternative to their dominant interests and to further their counterrevolutionary process that has been going on for years and to subvert the Constitution.

Yes, we must also face manipulation, lies and slander. It is necessary to intervene with audacity and determination, prioritizing direct contact with the workers and populations, valorising the work and intervention carried out, reaffirming the commitment to national interests and confidence in a Portugal with a future, broadening support and mobilizing for the intervention and vote, in order to build an electoral result that, with the strengthening of the CDU, ensures that progress is possible and strengthens the construction of the necessary alternative path capable of solving and responding to national problems and to the rights of workers and the people – the patriotic and left-wing policy.

In this framework, the PCP affirms itself as a decisive force in the resistance and in the struggle for the alternative, against the regression and for the values of April in the future of Portugal.

It is no wonder that big business, the centres which it directs and the various instruments it possesses, with its objectives of aggravation of exploitation, of complete subversion of the democratic regime and compromising sovereignty, hold the PCP as the main obstacle to their aims and intensify attacks against it, as is now happening.

Yes, the campaign of lies, slander and manipulation against the PCP is not innocent. As is the silencing of its activities. Their aim is to destroy the prestige of the PCP, its ideals and values.

And it is understandable that they do not forget the decisive role of the PCP, and therefore they do not forgive, for the advances achieved and the interruption of their project of impoverishment and liquidation of rights. They fear that the role of the PCP and CDU in the restoration of rights will be reinforced, ensuring that the country advances.

The reactionary forces, the representatives of monopoly interests, concentrate their attacks on the PCP, and also against the labour and trade union movement, with the aim of destroying the organised and steadfast force of the working class, of the workers and thus have their hands free to resume the path of exploitation and impoverishment, of national abdication and of subversion of the democratic regime.

As we have always affirmed, freedoms and democracy cannot be defended without the Portuguese Communist Party, much less against the Communist Party.

Those who seek to weaken the PCP, if they were to succeed, would weaken freedoms and democracy.

The strengthening of the PCP and the CDU is today one of the most important factors for the defence of the rights of the workers and the people, for the defence of democracy.

The Party has achieved, without ever renouncing its principles and the supreme objectives for which it strives, to have the agility and flexibility to evaluate and understand the new situations and find the appropriate answers. It has been so during the 98 years of the PCP, in anti-fascist resistance, in the struggle for freedom and democracy, in the April Revolution, in defence of the achievements of April and in the struggle against the right-wing policy, in defence of the democratic regime and defence of national sovereignty and independence.

The PCP with its identity, project and values makes a difference in Portuguese society.

Taking stock of 98 years of activity, recalling its history, learning its main teachings, we find 98 years of struggle, determination and confidence.

They do not intimidate us. With objectivity and truth, fighting lies, slander, persecution. Clarifying and denouncing, continuing the action and the political initiative, with the workers and the people, developing the mass struggle, promoting the convergence of democrats and patriots, clarifying and mobilising so that, following the elections, the CDU is strengthened giving more force to the struggle for the alternative, not to turn backwards. To move forward.

Always with the eyes turned to the future, strengthening the Party, strengthening the organisation, strengthening its link with the masses, for the unity of the workers, of all democrats and patriots, for the patriotic and left-wing alternative, affirming its identity and its programmatic project of an advanced democracy with the values of April in the future of Portugal, and having always present on the horizon the construction of socialism and communism.

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