Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary, PCP's 99th anniversary rally

Party of proposal and project, of the struggle for the patriotic and left-wing alternative, to respond to the country's structural problems

Party of proposal and project, of the struggle for the patriotic and left-wing alternative, to respond to the country's structural problems

A fraternal greeting, on behalf of the leadership of the Portuguese Communist Party, to all those who joined in the celebrations of its anniversary and when it is about to celebrate hundred years of a heroic life of struggle and conquest for new futures for the workers and our people. One hundred years almost completed, always with the prospect on the horizon, which it does not give up, materializing a land without masters, free from exploitation and oppression. Hundred years of life carrying this dream that has nurtured generations after generations of communists and remains and nurtures our struggles today.
A greeting to the members of the Party, to all those who, with their militant contribution, make this Party every day the staunchest defender of the interests, aspirations and rights of workers, our people and our homeland, the force that is part of a broader struggle of workers and peoples around the world. To all those who, even in the face of the greatest hardships and the greatest political and ideological attacks, have made the PCP a great national Party, the Party of the working class and all workers, of freedom, democracy and socialism!

But let me extend a particularly warm greeting to all those who although are not members of the Party, wished to join today in our celebration of the anniversary of the PCP. Companions of so many struggles, so many battles who, with their opinion, their energy, their knowledge, their creativity, also contributed to the struggle for better living conditions for our people and for a different course for our country. To each of you, we want to affirm that we highly value your presence and that you can always count on this Party in the many struggles that lie ahead.

A greeting also to all women, at this moment when we mark their International Day. This greeting is all the more natural as the struggle for women’s emancipation, equality and rights is a fundamental part of the action, initiative and proposal of the Portuguese Communist Party.

Born on March 6, 1921, out of the Portuguese workers' movement, by their own will and decision, in a climate of revolutionary rise, resulting from the struggles waged by Portuguese workers and the galvanizing effect of the Socialist Revolution of October 1917, the PCP was born to be different.

To be different and differently respond to a historical need of the Portuguese workers’ movement that felt the need to have a political organisation to represent and defend their interests and with it to start a new stage of the workers' movement in Portugal, capable of materializing their aspiration for transformation of the society and the construction of a new society.

A Party that was soon subjected to the toughest tests. Barely five years old and as a result of the military coup of May 28, 1926 that paved the way for the establishment of fascism in Portugal, the PCP was banned, persecuted and forced to act in the most severe clandestinity. The object of the most violent repression, it was able to withstand all blows, persecutions, imprisonment, torture and even the death of its militants and leaders.

A Party that grows and develops through the collective action of thousands of militants, and the contributions of so many revolutionaries, of which we must highlight Bento Gonçalves, whose contribution in the late twenties and early thirties, as General Secretary of the Party, and until his death in the Tarrafal Concentration Camp, ensures a firm fight against anarchist and anarchist conceptions, takes on the battle for the Party's connection with the working masses, begins its transformation into a revolutionary party of a new type and which later on it will affirm and consolidate.

At the time, a process of fascistization of the State and Portuguese society was underway with the establishment of the fascist political police, arbitrariness in the administration of justice and in the various areas of life in the country, with censorship, prohibition of all freedoms, political parties, with free trade unions replaced by corporative trade unions.

Its brutal repressive apparatus hit the Portuguese workers and people, democrats of various options, but it targeted preferentially the PCP and its organisation and militants. Time and again the PCP was struck by the treacherous blows of fascist repression, including its leadership, and the Party rose again and again reorganised itself, always pointing the way of connection with the masses and fighting for its reinforcement and strengthen its intervention.

Yes, while all the existing parties, forced or not, yielded, the PCP was the only political party that went through the years of the dictatorship without surrendering, nor abandoning the struggle, proving the correctness of the claim that the parties are not all equal and that there is a Party that made and makes all the difference.

Difficult times that would forge for the struggle great and courageous cadres that would weave the network of the resistance and reorganise in 1940/41 a Party ready for all the fights and define decisively the PCP with the matrix of the Party that we are and we want to continue to be - the Leninist Party of a new type - enriched by our own experience and reflection.

It was a time of great advances and important measures that led to the strengthening of its organisation and to a growing rooting of the PCP in the working class and among the peasants, but also among the intellectuals and in the various strata of our people, which enabled it to lead and to direct great mass movements, great struggles in the factories and fields and to launch itself on all fronts of the anti-fascist struggle in the construction of the unity of the democratic forces against the dictatorship and affirm in practice as the Party of the working class and as a great national Party.

In this process, as in all those that took place since then, practically until the end of his life, stands out, for his theoretical and practical contributions to the construction of the party collective, Álvaro Cunhal, who would be elected General Secretary of the Party, following the heroic escape from the Peniche Fort, today transformed into the National Resistance and Freedom Museum, by the action and persistence of the PCP and URAP. It was this Party matured, shaped and tempered by a thousand and one battles that, in 1965, came to adopt in its VI Congress the guidelines of the “Democratic and National Revolution” that led the workers and our people “On the Road to Victory” and make a decisive contribution in the materialization of the April 1974 Revolution and its valorous achievements.

If the PCP was the Party of the anti-fascist resistance and the struggle for freedom, it is, more importantly, the Party of the April Revolution, of its achievements, its ideals and its values.

There is no advance achieved by the popular masses in that shining time of the Revolution, without the PCP having a prominent role.

Rights of workers, women, youth. Freedom of the press and expression, freedom of creation and cultural enjoyment. Worker Control. Nationalisations and Agrarian Reform. Public and Universal Social Security. Public school. National Health Service.

In each of them, the PCP was present with its initiative and its encouragement to fight, with the mobilization of the workers and popular masses, with an unwavering confidence in the workers and people. And it is this Party that is now moving towards the completion of its hundred years of existence that in the last four decades has taken on the determined struggle that was needed against the restoration of monopolies and latifundia, the Party of resistance to counter-revolution, the Party defending the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic.

The Party that faced, like no other, the offensive against the destruction of many achievements and organised its defence, standing up to the right-wing policy and the capitalist restoration carried out by PS, PSD and CDS at the service of big capital, in this operation, not fully achieved because it faced the determination of the Portuguese people to defend them, in an attempt to dismantle what was achieved with April.

It is this Party, whose anniversary we are celebrating today, that remains the Party that does not spare any opportunity to ensure rights, to guarantee advances and achievements for the workers and for our people, bound as always to its everlasting commitment - the commitment to the workers, the people and the country and only that commitment.

The Party of proposal and project, of the struggle for the patriotic and left-wing alternative, to respond to the structural problems of the country, the Party of the struggle for an advanced democracy with the values of April in the future of Portugal.

Almost a century after its foundation, here we are. We are the Portuguese Communist Party. A Communist Party worthy of the name!

An independent Party, which remains determined to assert its communist identity. A Party with important ethical and moral values, inseparable from its project and ideal. The Party whose militants have shown unparalleled abnegation.

A Party that, on this anniversary, launches the celebrations of its centennial that will continue until March 6, 2022, under the motto “Freedom, Democracy, Socialism. The future has a Party”.

We will celebrate the Party's Centennial, with an important and vast set of initiatives to valorise our history, but fundamentally affirming the topicality of the values and the ideal for which we live and fight. A vast and important programme of celebrations, shown in the video exhibited here.

On March 6, 2021, the day when we will hold the great rally in Campo Pequeno, in Lisbon, on the day of its centennial, the PCP will confirm itself as the Party with the longest history in Portugal.

But at the same time it is also the youngest Portuguese party. Because no other reveals, like the PCP, the same strength, the same energy to intervene and fight for the transformation of Portuguese society.

This Party, which has always been the Party of the youth, because it has always had a deep identification with the dreams and aspirations of young people, inseparable from their ideal of freedom, justice, peace, solidarity and fraternity.

A Party of the youth because it has always counted on the valuable work of the organisations of young communists, whose legitimate heir is the Portuguese Communist Youth that we salute from this rostrum!

To mark this milestone in the history of the PCP, as a way of honouring its path and the militant contribution of so many thousands of communists for the construction of the Party we are, we will launch a broad programme to reinforce the Party in terms of leadership, cadres, political and ideological formation and the principles of its organic functioning, structuring and organisation, the recruitment of new militants, the diffusion of the party press, namely the Avante!, the means of propaganda and communication and deepening its connection to the masses.

A special emphasis will be placed on attributing responsibilities to cadres, the strengthening of the Party's action and organisation among the working class and workers in companies and workplaces, namely by creating 100 new cells and giving responsibility to 100 new cadres for these tasks, and guaranteeing the financial independence of the Party, launching a major national funding campaign, involving Party activists and friends and at the same time looking for a general increase in dues and their regular payment.

In this path of almost one hundred years full of history, there is a Party that is the result of the sacrifice and abnegation of its heroes fallen in the struggle and of the comrades that over the decades developed an intense and dedicated militancy and were the basis of an exceptional intervention that brought the Party to this day.

At this moment when we announce the launching of the celebrations of a century of history, this is our tribute to all of them and once again we reaffirm the determination of this great collective that the PCP is to assume with honour its past and the revolutionary heritage of hundred years of struggle!

A Party that has not allowed itself to be intimidated and that remains on its feet, determined, confident and combative looking and moving forward, aware of the dangers and the difficult times ahead, but not losing sight of the horizon, nor the path that we have to travel with our strengths and the strength of our conviction, carrying our transformative and emancipatory project.

We celebrate PCP's anniversary in a context in which Portugal continues to face serious economic and social problems and the great structural deficits that are at the root of the country's great dependence and are portrayed in insufficient levels of economic growth, in the persistent difficulties of the national productive sectors, in great social inequalities, in the degradation of its public services.

Problems that are inseparable from a policy that, for decades, has served the interests of big capital and subjected the country to the impositions of the European Union and the Euro, and remain unanswered with the PS government's options.

Although much is said about the possibility that complying with the dictates of the European Union and the Euro is compatible with the solution of national problems, the evolution of the country's situation is there to deny it.

It is denied by the prolonged postponement of the response to pressing problems, such as those in the area of healthcare, education, transport, culture or housing, essential components of a policy of development.

It is denied by the low levels of public investment conditioned by the current framework of constraints, which is shown in the various sectors of national life, including the replacement and development of the country's infrastructure.

It is denied by the weak dynamism of the national productive sectors, which continues to fall far short of their needs, and the unchanging seriousness of the chronic deficits, from the productive to the energetic, from the demographic to the technological.

It is denied by the visible deterioration of the external balances, namely in terms of goods and services, is heading towards increasing deficits, confirming the nature of the weak evolution of our economy and of our GDP since joining the Euro, while public debt remains a very heavy burden and consumes huge resources, without the necessary response - that of renegotiation of the debt.

It is denied by the growing dominance of foreign capital over the strategic sectors of the national economy, which already represents 50% of the capital of the 500 largest companies in the country, leading to a permanent outflow of thousands of millions of euros abroad in payments of dividends, to the detriment of investment in the country, as shown in our balance of payments.

It is denied by the degraded framework of labour rights and low wages, retirement and pensions.
In fact, it is not possible to continue to conceal that the solution of national problems does not find an answer with the current policy and the current framework of constraints.

With our important and decisive contribution, it was possible, in the last four years, to stop the course of national disaster that had been imposed, defending, restoring and conquering rights that were the real basis of economic growth, job creation and increasing tax and Social Security revenues.

But what has been achieved, as we have always said, is of limited scope for the scale of the problems that the country faces.

The same shortcomings and limitations are present in the State Budget for 2020 as a result of such options of the PS and its government, despite the adoption, in the phase of speciality, of a set of positive measures inseparable from the initiative and contribution of the PCP.

Measures that we do not fail to value, as we value each concrete step of progress achieved by the struggle on other fronts, as is the case of: the extra increase in pensions or the beginning of free day-care centres or the elimination of user fees in primary healthcare or the distribution of new school textbooks, among others, such as the commitment to hire 2500 staff for security forces and services; support for the modernisation of the taxi sector; the option to prioritize the expansion of the Metro network to Loures and Alcântara; the reduction of tuition fees; the requalification of the Teatro Camões; but measures that although an advance do not fully answer the country's fundamental problems.

Portugal needs a different policy, breaking with the core issues of right-wing policies that the PS has not abandoned, as evidenced by its governmental action, whose main options leave no room for sowing any illusion about its ability to ensure the solution of the country's fundamental problems.

As is the option that it took to put ahead of the public investment that is so lacking, the obsession with the deficit or of thousands of millions of euros diverted to PPPs, aggravating problems that have long been lacking answers with tangible consequences every passing day.

The option to serve the interests of big employers, not only in its articulation with such interests to prevent the increase in wages from being assumed as a national emergency, but to aggravate exploitation. This is the case, with its assumed limited increase of the National Minimum Wage, a far cry from the more than just objective of 850 € and promoting the blocking of collective bargaining, at the same time putting on the table, after 10 years of wage freeze, a base proposal for a 0.3% wage increase in Public Administration, not ensuring the recovery of lost purchasing power. This is the case in the option, assumed in convergence in its essential axes with the PSD, the CDS and now also with Chega e Liberal Initiative, visible in the insistence on the expiry of collective bargaining and in the non-replacement of the principle of more favourable treatment to the worker.

The same option to continue its action to support the interests of monopoly groups with the recent measures it has taken be it in the railways, with the renewal of the PPP with Fertagus of the Barraqueiro group.

Be it when the transfer of public funds to Novo Banco continues. Be it when it refuses the return of CTT [Postal Service] to the public sector.

Be it in healthcare when it has just launched a tender for a new PPP for Cascais Hospital management. An unacceptable decision that will in no way favour the National Health Service and the provision of healthcare to the Portuguese.

Be it in the airports, where the government fully yields to the interests of the multinational Vinci, insisting on Montijo Air Base and maintaining Portela at the expense of a future solution, at the Alcochete Shooting Range.

In relation to this matter, the Government has insisted on the thesis that those, like the PCP, who oppose the Portela plus Montijo solution, are forces that block progress. But they conceal the fact that the construction of the New Lisbon Airport on the grounds of the Alcochete Shooting Range was decided in all national instances and had a widespread consensus. Consensus that was broken with the privatisation of ANA Airports, when the new owners decided that it was better for them, for their profits, for their strategy, to expand Portela Airport and make Lisbon the only European capital with an International Airport growing inside it.

We continue to fight for the best solution for Lisbon, for its metropolitan area and for the country - for the need of the phased construction of a New International Airport on the grounds of the. Alcochete Shooting Range.

But the option to continue its action in favour of the interests of monopoly groups is also present when the PS government does everything not only to keep large incomes and high-value assets untouched, but also to guarantee the development of instruments favourable for an even greater concentration of wealth, either through taxation or public and EU funds currently being implemented.

A whole evolution of the national situation that big capital seeks to take advantage of, strengthening its power, dominance and influence in Portuguese society, either by benefiting from a government committed to its interests, or sponsoring the whitewashing of PSD and CDS, promoting Chega and the Liberal Initiative parties and spreading reactionary and anti-democratic conceptions.

These so-called new forces that entered the Assembly of the Republic in the last legislative elections are there at the service of big capital, with their reactionary agendas defending the old projects of worsening exploitation and questioning the democratic regime. While PSD and CDS arrange themselves and offer for new understandings in labour legislation, electoral laws, Social Security, Justice, for which a constitutional change would always be convenient, even if it were surgical, they do not refrain from saying that they care two hoots for the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, each one playing their part, but all with the same aims.

There is a different option to make. The situation of the country, of the workers and of the people, demands a break with the right-wing policy, it needs an alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy, assumed with determination.

A policy that has as its central axis the valorisation of work and workers, their wages and rights, and that gives a determined fight against precariousness and exploitation. A policy that ensures, through the reinforcement of Social Security, social support in childhood and old age, and ensures the valorisation of pensions and retirement and the improvement of the living conditions of those who worked for decades
A policy that promotes the productive apparatus replacing imports by national production, and that valorises agriculture, fisheries and industry.

A policy that ensures greater fiscal justice, relieving workers and burdening big capital and big fortunes.
A policy that guarantees the public investments necessary to guarantee access to public services and the social functions of the State.

A policy that defends national sovereignty and independence, and frees the country from submission to the Euro and the impositions of the European Union.

We have a very intense year ahead of us.

The fight for the patriotic and left-wing alternative, and for the alternative policy that materializes it, requires, in addition to the mobilisation of more and more democrats and patriots, the reinforcement of our intervention and initiative of proposal to ensure a Portugal with a future.

It demands the affirmation of CDU, of its distinctive project and heritage of work, honesty and competence and the reinforcement of our initiative in the Local Government in defence of the populations.

It demands that we value what we have achieved through the workers' struggle and the decisive initiative of the Party, acting to maintain our vast legislative initiative in the Assembly of the Republic, to respond to our commitments to the people and the country, in the most various fields, from labour rights to public services, fiscal policy to transport and housing, where it is imperative to create the conditions for the “eviction counter” to be revoked and an end to the speculative upward spiral of rents. Start building programmes or rehabilitation of homes in public housing, aimed at supported or conditioned rent schemes, also with young families in mind.

It demands the strengthening of the Party and that we carry out the national action of contact with 5000 workers until the end, asking them to join the Party.

It also demands that the mass struggle, which we welcome from here, be given more impetus, due to the important current of actions carried out in recent months and the set of initiatives that are already foreseen ahead, animated by the notable success of the CGTP-IN Congress, the great trade union central of Portuguese workers.

To begin with, the claiming action in companies and workplaces, a fundamental basis for achieving advances in wages, working conditions, rights, which should converge in the National Demonstration of Women, promoted by the MDM on March 8th, in Lisbon, for women's rights and peace, at the National Demonstration of Working Youth on March 26th, on April 25th and on the great day of struggle on May 1st.

The XXI Congress of our Party will be held this year. A Congress that we have to prepare with the utmost attention, while addressing at the same time the multiple problems that the current political situation requires.

The PCP Congress is a high and very important moment in party life that requires the committed involvement, participation and contribution of Party organisations and militants.

We will begin a period in which we will all be called upon to take stock of the work, proceed the analysis, debate and make decisions of the highest importance for the life of the PCP and for its intervention in all areas.

The first phase of preparation for our Congress has just been opened by the Central Committee. A multi-phase process has now started, which will take us to the end of November, in Loures, to determine the proposals to be submitted for the appreciation and approval of the delegates to the XXI Congress.

The first phase will take place until the end of May, based on the discussion throughout the Party of the fundamental issues to which the Congress must answer, on the structural matters to be included in the Theses-Draft Political Resolution.

This is not a mere pro-forma action, to fulfil pre-defined stages. We are talking about the materialization of the broad democracy in the functioning of the Party, where all its militants are summoned, not to choose a trench in fratricidal struggles to decide who the leader is, but to give their opinion and their contribution for the definition of Party orientation in the coming years.

As always, we will know how to build a Congress that lives up to our responsibilities and the role we play in Portuguese society.

A Congress having in mind the answer to the problems of workers, the people and the country, to pave the way of a Portugal with a future.

We mark the Party's anniversary at a time when imperialism is gathering black clouds over the world. Faced with the determined resistance and struggle of the peoples for their rights, in the face of their assertion of sovereignty, imperialism spares no means to impose its domination, from blackmail to threats, from sanctions to blockades, from economic wars to military aggressions, in clear defiance of international law.

From martyred Syria, to Yemen and Palestine, which rejects the shameful "Trump plan" whose only aim is to perpetuate the illegal Israeli occupation and expel the Palestinians from their lands.

From the blighted Middle East to Latin America, where people are fighting in defence of their sovereignty and the right to social progress facing imperialism’s attacks, like socialist Cuba that resists the boosting of the blockade or Bolivarian Venezuela that resists destabilisation and aggression.

Across the world, we see imperialism’s aggressive spiral, particularly American imperialism - accompanied, despite contradictions, by NATO and the European Union -, to attack all those it considers being an obstacle to the imposition of its hegemonic domination.

It is American imperialism that drives a dangerous militarisation of international relations and an arms race, which abandons important treaties aimed at limiting nuclear weapons, threatening world security and peace.

A whole reality that portrays the structural crisis of capitalism and the attempt by imperialism to stop the inevitable struggle of the peoples and counter positive trends that are present in the complex process of rearrangement of forces at the international level.

It is worrying that the Portuguese Government aligns with the warmongering strategy of the American Administration, NATO, the European Union. When what was needed was a truly sovereign foreign policy, defending peace and cooperation, peoples' rights and international law, the PS government's policy is to submit to strategies contrary to the national interest and the Portuguese people.

An internationalist Party, confident and firm in its solidarity with the struggle of the peoples in defence of their rights and sovereignty and for solutions to the serious problems that affect humanity - such as war, social inequalities or environmental degradation -, the PCP, calls on all democratic, progressive and revolutionary forces to converge in the struggle for peace, justice and social progress, for a better world, and reaffirms its determination to contribute to the strengthening of the international communist and revolutionary movement and of the anti-imperialist front .

Yes, we know that there are reasons for concern and great dangers, but it is also true that there is real potential for the development of the struggle for progressive and revolutionary transformations.

We are aware of the difficulties and the many obstacles, but we have the confidence that comes from decades of struggle of unparalleled history!

We are the Portuguese Communist Party. The Party that never turned away from the fight and defence of the interests of the workers, the exploited, the people and the country. The Party, whose militants gave unparalleled evidence of abnegation, refusing and declining favours and benefits. The Party that has within itself and carried, generation after generation, a heroic prowess of revolutionaries, of men and women dedicated to the cause of the emancipation of humanity.

A Party not only to resist, but to move ahead, which is the bearer of that hope that does not wait and that forged with concrete struggle makes the dream a reality, always, always with the workers and the people. The Party that promotes participation and struggle. The Party that alerts, clarifies, mobilises and unites, showing the huge strength of the mass struggle to transform society. The Party bearer of solutions to the problems facing the country.

Yes, we are the Party of the causes of the future. Valuing those who work. Ensuring living and working conditions, education, healthcare, housing for all.

We are the Party for the rights of women, youth, intellectuals, pensioners, people with disabilities, small and medium-size farmers and entrepreneurs. We are the Party of social justice, development and progress.

We are the Party of national sovereignty, of the right of peoples to self-determination and peace!

We are this great force that, with the energy of its firm convictions, carries the banner of hope and tells us that it was worthwhile and worth facing the future with confidence, because we pursue the noblest ideal of emancipation and of liberation from the exploitation of man by man.

The Party that remains at the forefront of the struggle to materialize this millenary dream that mobilizes millions of human beings worldwide.

The Party that affirms and reaffirms its communist nature and identity in the implementation of a patriotic and left-wing policy, in rupture with the right-wing policy, for an advanced democracy, for socialism and communism.

For Freedom, Democracy and Socialism, the Future has a Party!

Long live the Portuguese Communist Party!