Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General-Secretary

Opening Act of the 42nd. Avante! Festival

Opening Act of the 42nd. Avante! Festival

We have opened the doors of the forty-second edition of the Avante! Festival. We do it with great joy at seeing the result of a collective work erected inch by inch with the readiness and militant determination, with the willingness and passion of many friends of the Party, many friends of the Avante! Festival - who build, organise and enjoy it, and take it as their own, driven by the values of April, of solidarity, of peace, of social justice, of the struggle for a better life, for a free and sovereign country.

We invested in the expansion of the area, providing better conditions to the visitors, particularly children, we continue to valorise and diversify the cultural offer.

It was customary every year to raise expectations on the resumption of political activity. In a touch of class, calling it "rentrée." We never made comparisons. But if we wished to do so we would not need to invoke the Sunday rally, it would suffice to show the dimension and participation in this Opening Act.

We do not, because we never considered the Avante! Festival a starting point, but a high point of our daily action and intervention, an unparalleled moment that gives us more strength and confidence to continue the necessary combats that arise from the current phase of national political life, combats that require our Party to continue the struggle, intervention and proposal for the restoration, defence and achievement of the rights and income of the workers and people, bearing in mind the imperative and crucial need to implement an alternative policy that addresses the serious national problems.

The structural deficits that exist in national production, in terms of food, energy, demography, the worsening of the situation in healthcare, education, culture and public transport need s structural response.
The situation in transports starkly exposes the result of the policies of disinvestment in the country's development infrastructures and of the privatisations, the destruction of the productive apparatus, for example, in EMEF and even in the great SOREFAME company, which produced carriages that are so missed today.

These problems, which continue to be heightened by the consequences of submission to the European Union's impositions, cannot overrule the governments now in charge, having rotated for four decades in the implementation of right-wing policies.

Listening to the weeping and whining cries of the PSD and CDS regarding the situation in public services is, as our people say, "throwing the stone and hiding the hand", trying to wipe out from memory the responsibilities they also share in their deterioration.

It is also a matter of concern that, in this context, the PS Government, in a matter so relevant as the labour legislation, has given up, in other words, agreed with PSD and CDS on matters such as the caducity of collective bargaining, the maintenance of precariousness and deregulation of working times, as well as the transfer of competences to local government.

Options and convergences that are expressed and enhanced by accepting the impositions of the European Union or those resulting from the mechanisms and constraints of the Euro and the bridle of the debt and deficit, with heavy consequences on the limitation of public investment and the materialization of the country's and Portuguese people’s inalienable right to sovereign development.

The situation today in various sectors, undermining the rights to healthcare, education, culture, mobility, housing and the problems resulting from structural shortages in the economic, social, demographic or territorial planning areas, demand a break with current policies, demand another policy, an alternative policy, patriotic and left-wing, and a Government capable of implementing it.

Yes, we value the advances, the restoration, defence and achievement of the rights of the workers and the people. Yes, we will not lose any opportunity to valorise wages, namely the National Minimum Wage to 650 euros in January 2019, increasing pensions, increasing family allowances, supporting the unemployed, people with disabilities, relieve the tax burden on workers and their families, lower VAT on the price of energy and gas cylinders, well aware of the limitations and shortcomings of the progress achieved.

Yes, we know that as long as the country does not break free from the dogmas and impositions of the European Union and the right-wing policy that in its origin aims to privilege and keep untouched the interests of monopoly capital, the path of progress will continue to be blocked.

Yes, we know that the intervention and the combats we are fighting will be all the more successful the more the workers struggle, based on the justice of their objectives, their desires, the defence and achievement of rights, a struggle that cannot be delegated on anyone, but which demands commitment from the political forces. And this commitment, the PCP assumes.

This commitment is all the more lasting and achievable, the stronger the PCP is, with the assurance that this option, giving more power to the PCP gives more power to those who give it.

May our Avante! Festival run smoothly! May you enjoy it with your eyes free from prejudice, in this year which is also the Second Centenary of the birth of Karl Marx, the topicality and validity of whose thinking for the struggles of today and of the future our Festival will project!

It will exhibit, in their multifaceted expression, the values of April.

The value of work and of workers, the value of politics in what is most noble in the service of workers and people, the value of art, science, culture, the value of human interaction, the value of childhood where children and parents have more rights, in a Portugal with a future, the values of solidarity, friendship and peace.

I declare open the forty-second edition of the Avante! Festival!

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