Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary, XI Congresss of the PCY (JCP)

«It is with struggle that we will prevail»

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Speech by Jeronimo de Sousa, General Secretary of the PCP, at the XI Congress of the Portuguese Communist Youth

A warm greeting, from the leadership of the Portuguese Communist Party, a fraternal embrace, from the leadership of the Portuguese Communist Party and unswerving support for the 11th Congress of the Portuguese Communist Youth – JCP.

To each and every delegate coming from all districts and autonomous regions, primary and secondary schools, vocational schools, institutions of higher education, companies and workplaces, our appreciation for your commitment in this Congress and for your militancy in the revolutionary youth organization, JCP.

Through you I want to convey to the Portuguese youth PCP’s firm solidarity in their ceaseless struggle for their aspirations and for the right to be happy in our Country, the deep conviction of this 96-year old Party that, with your energy, determination and combativeness, we will be able to face the inevitabilities, the fatalities that they want to impose on us and build this world we dream of peace, progress and happiness.

Your analysis of the national life, the problems of the youth and the ways to overcome them, has a starting point and a premise that are of great value.
This starting point is the fact that in Portugal we had a liberating revolution, the April Revolution, which opened the avenues of the future, whose values go far beyond their concrete implementation during the revolutionary period, resisting the whole process of counter-revolution that has been going on for more than four decades.

Values of April that have concrete contents and that your action defends every day. The value of freedom, of the right to participation, vote, free speech, free press. The value of democracy that, to be in fact, must be political, economic, social and cultural. The value that the Portuguese people have the right to free, quality public education, free healthcare for all, employment with rights. The value that it is right to aspire to a healthy environment, and respect for nature in a developed country. The value that the path is social transformation, by popular participation, holding the decision of their destinies, far beyond the mere act of voting.

The political resolution that you have just adopted follows the path of materializing the values of April and points out with great depth the problems and aspirations of the youth, which need to be addressed.

Knowledge and depth, well expressed during these two days of Congress.

This platform has heard the difficulties suffered by the students of the Secondary and Higher Education.

The consequences of under financing as a result of decades of right-wing policy sharply exacerbated by the previous PSD/CDS Government.
The poor conditions in many schools, where it rains, where there are not enough staff and teachers, where there is no support material, where services do not work properly.

The costs of education, which drive away thousands of students, with Higher Education tuition fees, and also with textbooks and other school materials, meals, transport.

The low amounts of scholarships and the successive delays in their payment and the shortage of the School Social Services in Secondary education.
The paths of the privatization of education, either by handing various components to the private sector, in Secondary Education, or by the creation of foundations in Higher Education.

Here we have heard the problems of young workers. Labour precariousness, low wages, poor working conditions that put workers' health at risk, long and painful working times, inhibiting personal and family life, abuse of rights.

Here were disclosed limitations to constitutional freedoms and guarantees, reflected in attempts to prevent Student Meetings, preventing propaganda or protest actions, in actions penalizing youth participation.

Here we have heard about limitations of access to culture, the right to mobility, to housing.

Problems and aspirations that will only be answered with the patriotic and left-wing political alternative that we advocate to address the problems of youth and of the Country.

During these three years between the last and the present JCP’s 11th.Congress, there was an important change in the national political situation: the PSD/CDS government no longer exists, was defeated and dismissed from the country's governance.

This was the first great aim of our struggle, an aim of the struggle of the workers, and, with its materialization, to halt its brutal offensive and to interrupt a process that was destroying the life of the Portuguese with its policy of exploitation and impoverishment and leading the Country into an abyss.
We managed it with the struggle of the workers, the youth, our people, first isolating it and then putting an end to it through the ballot and the initiative of our Party.

Had it not been the struggle of more than four years mobilizing hundreds of thousands of Portuguese, the reality of the national political situation today would be very different, the attacks on popular interests and the impoverishment of the people and the Country would not only have continued, but would have expanded.

We know that the political solution that was found is limited, that the other great aim of our present struggle - the defeat of right-wing policy - is yet to be fulfilled. It is this policy that still determines in essential aspects the options of the present government.

This is the reason why the fight for the affirmation of a patriotic and left-wing policy and the political alternative to materialize it - the true solution to break with the backwardness and ensure the sovereign development of the Country and answer the great problems of our people and of the youth - continues in this new stage of national life.

That is why the motto of this congress "Conquer the present, build the future. It is with struggle that we will prevail! "

Yes, it is because of the struggle that we will prevail, it was also because of the struggle that we have come so far.

This same struggle has brought to the streets, a few days ago, thousands of young workers, who took part in the great national demonstration called by the CGTP-IN/Interjovem, to demand concrete and urgent measures against precariousness, better wages and work with rights.

The struggle, like the one that the students of Higher Education promoted on the 23rd, marking the Student Day against the tuition fees and in defence of the right to education and Public Schools.

Struggles we salute from here, just as we salute the ongoing struggles and those under preparation, particularly the one for which they are already working to make it a great day of struggle for Portuguese workers - May Day, Labour Day - and which will have, we are sure, the mobilization, the commitment of JCP and the participation, support and solidarity of the Portuguese youth!

Yes, it is with struggle that we will prevail, opening paths that lead us to the solution of the concrete problems and to the alternative.
The Country sailed back in various fields as a result of years and years of right-wing policies and capitalist integration in the European Union. It retreated a lot economically. It has regressed worryingly in social terms with rising poverty and inequalities.

This week came out the International Labour Organization Global Report on wages which shows a dimension of this regression. And what does the report say? It says that Portugal is one of the countries where the wage share in the economy has declined most. One of the countries where the share of wages in National Income fell the most, going from 60% in 2003 to 52% in 2014. That we are one the most unequal countries and we know who has been particularly hit by the policy of permanent lowering of wages: the young who start a working life with starvation wages. Obviously it is not only the young, low wages are a reality in the Country, but the young feel it in a particular way, working and becoming poorer!

This is the result of labour deregulation, precariousness of labour ties, which today continue to grow, changes for the worse in the Labour Code in recent years by PS, PSD and CDS governments, attacks and destruction of collective bargaining that they also promoted. Measures that brought about the law of the jungle in labour relations.

But the demands of the European Union, the IMF and usual company are also serious. Aware of this and shedding crocodile tears at the unemployment and living conditions of the youth, in their recommendations, as the European Commission recently did, there appears the list of structural reforms that are needed, always to snatch rights and income from those who work, and regretting that some of the false reforms they have defended have been reversed this past year. The same goes for the European Central Bank, which comes with new threats of sanctions against the Country, as a result of macroeconomic imbalances and with more of the same litany: cuts in wages, flexibilization of labour relations, cuts in the social functions of the State.
This is the European Union of monopolies and great interests that we have!

It is for all of this that our struggle is just and the reason why we increasingly commit ourselves to the development of PCP’s national action, «More rights, more future. No to precariousness»', aiming at the just principle that a permanent job must correspond to an effective employment contract.

A campaign based on the valorisation of work and workers – a fundamental pillar of the patriotic and left-wing policy - with the continuation of, in particular, the action to raise the national minimum wage to 600 euros and to repeal the more grievous norms of the labour legislation.
A campaign with which the PCP has taken important legislative initiatives. They are concrete proposals presented in the Assembly of the Republic to reverse a permissive labour legislation and to decisively combat precariousness.

We are aware of the resistance to the proposals we presented and it must be said, without demeaning the set of positive measures taken: it is wrong for the PS and its government to insist on options that ignore the need to reinforce workers' rights. If the changes to the Labour Code and labour legislation of the Public Administration are not implemented, extinguishing norms imposed by the previous government and harming the rights of workers. If it resists ending the expiry of collective bargaining or the principle of more favourable treatment.

Just as it does in other matters, such as its option, made public on Friday, of handing the Novo Banco to a fund of financial capitalization. We know and do not omit the responsibilities of the PSD/CDS government and the European Union. They nationalized the losses, to sell it clean later.
All that is known about this sale can only lead to the conclusion that it has present and future costs. This is a bad decision.

Like the youth so often says, millions for the banks and pennies for schools, for the country!
The only way that defends the country and the economy is the integration of the Novo Banco into the public banking sector, facing and rejecting the impositions and interference of the European Union. As we have stated, if the bank is not public, it is not national!

We do not underestimate the steps taken during this stage of national political life in the restoration of rights and incomes, many of which with our proposal and initiative, such as the freezing of minimum and maximum tuition fees. Restoration and even achievement, as is the case of free textbooks in the first cycle of basic education, or free admission to museums on Sunday mornings.
But if the result of the legislative elections of a year and a half ago had been different and PS was able to form a majority government, if the correlation of forces in the Assembly of the Republic had been different, many of the steps would not have been implemented. They were because there is struggle. They were because the PCP and PEV, with their weight, have conditioned the political choices.

We are all aware that we live in a contradictory framework of possibilities and limitations. That the steps taken do not conceal how much has yet to be done, and how many limitations must be surpassed to overcome the great problems of the Country.

Problems that, in order to be surpassed to serve national interests, require the rupture of the PS government's commitments to the interests of monopoly capital and with the submission to the European Union's impositions.

As we have said, in our campaign 'Production, employment, sovereignty. Free Portugal from submission to the Euro ", the Country needs to defend and increase its national production. It needs to address the external constraints that prevent its sovereign development, restore monetary and budgetary sovereignty, free resources for public investment, improve public services and strengthen the social functions of the State. In order to achieve this, it needs to liberate the Country from submission to the euro, renegotiate the debt and ensure the recovery of public control of the banking system.

The Country needs to remove these three great constraints. Three class submissions to big financial capital, to the big European economic groups, which benefit themselves and not the Country.

We have at our doorstep the battle of the elections for Local Government. This is a battle that cannot do without the involvement and contribution of the youth, as candidates and as activists, to make these elections a time to build a result that confirms CDU as the great and main left-wing force in local administration.
CDU will be throughout the country with its alternative project and the distinctive character of its Local Government action, based on Work, Honesty and Competence and affirming its distinctive project, a clear alternative to the management and projects of other political forces, be they PSD and CDS, be it PS or BE.

These are elections that constitute a political battle of great importance for what they represent at the local level, but also for what they can contribute to encourage the struggle we wage in this new phase of national political life to better defend the interests of the workers, the people and the Country.
I would like to greet very fraternally the delegations of Youth organisations from the four corners of the world, who came here to accompany the proceedings of the Congress and bring their experiences, their struggles, their intervention for a new world, free from exploiters and exploited. Carry back with you, from these two days of work, and pass on to the youth of your countries the full confidence that in Portugal there is an organisation, the Portuguese Communist Youth, which stands firm in its combat post which, in its Country, spares no efforts in the struggle against imperialism, for peace, for progress, for socialism.

A special greeting for the representation of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, expressing our support for its activity and the strengthening of this important anti-imperialist youth organisation.

A greeting and an expression of our solidarity, but which we want to be at the same time the reaffirmation of a commitment with you all.
The commitment of which we speak to you, and which we reiterate to you today, is to continue and intensify the struggle with all our strength.
To continue the struggle in defence of the interests of the working people and all anti-monopoly strata hard hit by capitalist exploitation and oppression, to intensify the struggle for peace, against war and militarism, at a time when, at the international level, we live a time increasingly full of dangers and uncertainties.
A situation marked by the deepening of the structural crisis of capitalism with the worsening of the most negative traits of its exploitative, oppressive, aggressive and predatory nature.

An evolution of the international situation, involving the main capitalist powers, which is a matter of serious concern due to its increasing risks for the workers and peoples.

The inauguration of the new Administration of the United States of America and its implications, still unpredictable, in various areas, the continuing economic and financial crisis, the expansion of NATO forces, destabilization and war operations in several points in the world, and the exacerbation of inter-imperialist rivalries, are, among others, factors that portray an unstable and disturbing international situation, increasingly marked by imperialism’s violent offensive.

The growth of the crisis, the economic problems and the scourges, from unemployment to the social wounds of poverty and hunger, show the inhumane and criminal nature of capitalism and confirm its inability to solve the world's problems and overcome its contradictions. On the contrary, its action enhances all problems and everywhere it faces the resistance and the struggle of workers and peoples.

War is increasingly seen as imperialism’s response to the crisis of its system of exploitation and oppression.

The complex international situation in which our struggle for a patriotic and left-wing alternative is set, cannot make us forget the reality that the deepening of the structural crisis of capitalism proves, that we live in the historical epoch of the transition from capitalism to socialism, which was inaugurated by the October Revolution, whose centennial our Party is celebrating, highlighting its universal reach, valorising its gains and the achievements of the Soviet Union and its decisive role in the revolutionary breakthroughs of the twentieth century, underlining that the defeat of a “model” which moved away from and contradicted the communist ideal and project, does not call into question the direction of world evolution and the necessity of Socialism.

We know that many of you are bombarded daily with a vision of History, which presents you with capitalism as the final system, bombardment that intensifies this centennial year, where there is an orchestrated campaign of misinformation, intoxication and manipulation to denigrate its achievements and to present capitalism as the only solution of the future and the end of the history of Humanity.

They rewrite history to the tune of their conveniences, always with a view of alienating peoples from the understanding of the processes that mark the last hundred years in the life of the contemporary world and thereby delay the advent of the alternative - Socialism.

But there is no misinformation campaign that can erase the fact that the October Revolution has transformed the backward Russia of the czars into a highly developed country.

Nothing can erase that it was the Revolution that for the first time brought fundamental social rights, such as the right to work, maximum 8 working hours, paid vacations, equal rights for men and women in the family, life and working conditions, the right to housing, free medical care, universal and free social security and free education.

Nothing can erase that it was its successes and the strength of its example that enabled other countries to achieve important social achievements.
Nothing can erase that it was the Soviet Union that made a decisive contribution to the victory over Nazi-fascism in World War II, in a heroic battle that cost it more than twenty million lives.

Nothing can erase its support, the support of the Soviet people and the USSR for the struggle of the national liberation movement, which led to the collapse of colonialism and the achievement of independence of numerous peoples and nations for centuries subjected to colonial rule.
Yes, comrades, we celebrate the October Revolution for what it launched in great transformations on a planetary level, changing the face of the world, its gains, achievements and transformations in favour of workers and peoples, and in celebrating it we are saying that another World is possible!
And it is also because of the struggle of the many millions all over the world fighting with courage and determination the hard battles of the class struggle that intensify that we will prevail!

A cause never dies while there is someone who strives for it!

The materialization of the political alternative and the left-wing and patriotic alternative policy that we fight for requires, among other things, two interrelated conditions.

On the one hand, the development of the mass struggle, involving more and more men and women, more and more youth, in this broad social front of struggle, committed to its accomplishment. A movement of struggle, initiative and protest that has to grow from each concrete problem, from each school, from each university, from each company and workplace and that has to rely on the broad work of unity of the young communists with many other young people engaged in the struggle for a different course to national life. It is necessary, it is safe and useful to trust the youth, their ideals and their transforming capacity.

There are those who believe that the evolution of social and political awareness of the youth is carried out mechanically by means of proclamation, generic theorizing, underestimating reality, the concrete problems that affect and mobilize, can lead them to isolation from the young masses.
The priority action of the revolutionary youth must be there, in the schools, in the university institutions, there in the company, in the workplace, where the conflict begins and ends, where energies are released and appear new fighters to develop the organised struggle.

Strengthening JCP’s organisation is the most difficult task, but it is the most fulfilling.

On the other hand, it demands the strengthening of PCP’s political, social and electoral influence and this requires a stronger, more organised JCP, with more capacity for action and intervention, with more militants and more militancy, with more collectives functioning.

Please allow me to greet the comrades who during this Congress joined the ranks of the Party.

Someone here has said that we carry a huge responsibility on our shoulders! Not a burden! We carry in our hearts and in our minds a goal that goes beyond utopia and dream, a goal that will become closer the more it is based on the struggle that transforms, with democracy and socialism on the horizon!

On our part, we would like to convey to you that we are more heartened, with more determination for the many struggles that continue. Because it is with the struggle that we will prevail!

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