Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary of the PCP - At the International Rally

The International Rally PCP – 85 years of solidarity with the peoples in struggle

Comrades,

It is for us an honour and cause for great joy to host in our country the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties, with the participation of such a large number of delegations from Parties which – like the PCP in Portugal, are resisting and fighting in their countries against the offensive of capital, to defend the workers’ interests, for alternatives of progress and social justice, for peace and for socialism.
Your presence, comrades, which we have wished to highlight with this Solidarity Rally, so that you may feel the warmth of our friendship and our sincere recognition, is a major incentive for our struggle.

It shows that, unlike what our opponents say, the Portuguese Communists are not isolated, and that we have friends throughout the world. But it also shows that in all continents, in the most diverse conditions and forms, the resistance and the struggle of the workers and the peoples continues. It shows that the Communist and revolutionary movement is not doomed to any “irreversible decline”, as had been predicted by the pundits of the “end of History”, of the “end of ideologies” and the “end of the class struggle”. Everywhere, there are forces that have the goal of a socialist society in their programs and in their struggles, that defend the values and ideals of socialism and communism, that have real influence in the social movement and in the political life of numerous countries.

No, comrades. Communism is not “dead”, nor will it die. As long as society is divided into social classes, as long as there is exploitation of man by man, as long as capitalism’s basic contradiction between labour and capital is not overcome, not only will there be room for Communist Parties, as their existence and their internationalist cooperation and solidarity will become increasingly necessary.

Because it is obvious that the times of tremendous regression that we live in today on an international level have their roots in the system of capitalist exploitation, in the dictatorship of big capital, in the quest for maximum profits (which are increasingly being reaped in the non-productive sphere, in speculation, in criminal trafficking), in the dictatorship of the market which is dominated by big transnational economic and financial groups.

The violent offensive of exploitation that the so-called “globalization” represents, with the attack against workers’ historic rights and achievements and the social, and even civilizational, regression that accompanies it, are an indictment against capitalism and its incapacity to solve the problems of the workers and the peoples.

In itself, this reality shows the need, long since demonstrated by Marx, Engels and Lenin, of re-organizing society on new bases, in which the workers and people – and not profits – may be at the core of policies, and in which the magnificent achievements of science and technology (which the multinationals have appropriated) may be placed at the service of a real improvement in the living conditions of the masses and in putting an end to the scourges of unemployment, disease, hunger, illiteracy, that affect the planet and which, instead of being fought, are shamelessly manipulated to prevent the oppressed peoples from acquiring a revolutionary awareness and to reproduce the mechanisms of capitalist exploitation and submission.

It is true that capitalism has shown a surprising capacity for resistance and adaptation and that the edification of socialism, after thousands of years of societies based on the exploitation and oppression of man by man, has proved to be more complex, troubled and lengthy that what had been predicted by the communists in times of liberating advances. The defeats of socialism have left open room for the expression of capital’s exploiting, aggressive and oppressive nature. Imperialism has gone on the offensive, seeking to recover the positions that it had lost throughout the Twentieth Century, in very harsh class battles that involved two destructive world wars and which required from the progressive forces, and first and foremost from the Communists, convictions, courage and revolutionary determination.

But the need for a revolutionary overcoming of capitalism has not only not disappeared with the disintegration of the USSR and the disappearance of socialism, as it has become even more relevant and urgent. Life is confirming with every passing day that capitalism is not only incapable of overcoming its contradictions, as they tend to become ever more extraordinarily acute. It is obvious that the speedy centralization and concentration of capital that is occurring throughout the world and the concentration of economic and political power in the hands of a few transnational groups, is vastly broadening the social basis of anti-monopolist and anti-capitalist stances. Exposed to the dramatic social and environmental consequences resulting from the quest for maximum profits and from the arms race, it is the very survival of Humankind that is at stake, and this makes the alternative of socialism all the more urgent and necessary.

Comrades,

It is in this international context – of instability and uncertainty, marked by imperialism’s violent offensive and by grave dangers for the freedom and independence of peoples, but also by a strong resistance and real possibilities for progressive and revolutionary transformations – that the PCP wages its struggle in Portugal. We are a Party with a project, a Party of struggle and of proposals, which does not abdicate from confronting a right-wing policy that is marked by neo-liberal goals and that is carried out by the Socialist Party Government. We do not abdicate from warning and mobilizing the workers and the people for the fight in defence of their interests and rights.

And if the Prime Minister, always claiming for himself the role of the «good guy» and always leaving it up to his Cabinet Ministers to shoulder the ungrateful role of confronting the protests, the strikes and the street events, said at his Party Congress [being held today] that his Party will «listen to the streets», but that the streets will have to «listen to what the majority of the Portuguese people said at the elections», then let him know that it is the Government that is attacking and confronting electoral legitimacy when it promises one thing and does something else – in the tax policies, in health care, in social security, in labour rights and popular rights. It is for this reason that the protest and the struggle is more than legitimate, in its demands for an alternative policy.

In trying to change the role and the structure of the State, in attacking labour rights, the social functions of the State and in privatising public services, the PS is doing in the Government, what the right-wing would like to do.

In a context in which, unlike what happened after April 1974, when the influence of the socialist countries, the climate of international détente and the liberation struggle of the peoples subjected to Portuguese colonialism where creating favourable conditions for the Portuguese revolution and making an overt imperialist intervention in the domestic affairs of our country more difficult, we now have a context that creates serious difficulties for the independent and sovereign development of countries like Portugal. The great powers, the great centers of capitalism, the large multinational corporations, are all exerting pressure to impose theories and practices that are ruinous for our economies, that destroy social rights and achievements, that impoverish our democracy, that challenge national sovereignty and independence.

But at the same time as we recognize this reality, we very clearly state that Portugal is not doomed to dance to the tune of the interests of big business and of the great powers. We oppose fatalism and resignation. We expose the stance of national abdication and of alignment with imperialism that has been taken by successive governments for the past thirty years. We demand respect for the spirit and the letter of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, which forces the organs of sovereignty to have a policy of friendship, peace and cooperation with all peoples of the world, regardless of their political regime and social and economic system.

The PCP thinks that it is particularly urgent to break with the policies of servile submission to imperialism’s aggressive strategy, headed by the USA, which, with the pretext of fighting terrorism, is launching the world into a terrible spiral of tension, aggressions and wars of occupation, that have as their goal, obviously not the proclaimed defence of “democracy” and “human rights”, but the plunder of resources – and first and foremost the control over the production, distribution and commercialisation of oil and natural gas – the conquering of markets, the occupation of key positions, the repression of resistance and of struggles that threaten the ruling classes.

It is necessary to say “No!” to the use of our national territory for the CIA’s criminal operations – with kidnappings, secret prisons, torture, murder – or as a base or transit point for operations of aggression against other peoples, as frequently happens in relation to US and Israeli aggressions in the Middle East.

It is necessary to re-establish national sovereignty over the Lages Military base – where, with the current president of the European Commission acting as master of ceremonies, the “summit of the lies” which decided the Iraq war was held – and put an end to its use as an unsinkable US aircraft carrier.

It is necessary for the national Armed Forces to fulfil their constitutional mission of defending national sovereignty instead of being – as successive governments, including the current Socialist Party government have tried to ensure – mere tools of aggressive NATO and European Union operations in the Balkans, in the Middle East, in Africa (where they seek to be the intermediaries and spearheads of imperialism) and in other parts of the world. It is particularly troubling that Portugal, which is already taking part in several theatres of war, has forces being sent to Lebanon, and that the Government is linking the country’s prestige to the militarization of its foreign policy and to the so-called “projection of force”, with some even going as far as considering that “security” should be one of Portugal’s main export products. The Government’s sophism that we must “be in step with our allies” only serves to hide its real subordinate role, which is bordering on the humiliating, when we see a Prime Minister, in an international event, stating that the United States are the champions of “respect for human rights” and of a “humanist vision”. Neither Bush nor Rumsfeld could have expected as much!

A patriotic and internationalist Party, aware of its responsibilities before the Portuguese people and internationally, the PCP will pursue its struggle in defence of a foreign and defence policy that may ensure our national sovereignty and independence, for a Europe of peace, progress and cooperation, and for a world free from the imperialist threat, more democratic, more peaceful and more just.

The struggle against this European Union of big business and of the great powers, and for a different Europe of peace, progress and cooperation, is a particularly important direction of our activity, which includes the December 16 National Meeting on the consequences for Portugal of 20 years of EU membership and the attention that we must continue giving to the Portuguese presidency of the European Union, during the second semester of next year.

It is our duty, together with other Communist Parties and left-wing forces of all Europe, to do everything at our reach so as to stop the path that is being paved, namely by Germany, to save the “Constitutional treaty” which the French and Dutch referenda have defeated without appeal. To do everything so that the neo-liberal policies, which continue despite the intense struggle that is waged against them by the workers and the peoples of numerous countries, like Portugal, may be rolled back.  To do everything to invert the militarist course to which the European Union is committed.

The contradictions and rivalries between the big imperialist blocs – the USA, EU/Germany and Japan – do not prevent them from coordinating fundamental aspects of their policies against the workers and the peoples. The pledge between the USA and the EU to collaborate in the Middle East in what regards Palestine and Lebanon is very serious and it will never be too much to denounce the EU’s responsibilities, through its action or its inaction, in the real strangulation of the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank. On a military level, this collaboration even goes as far as the attempt to “constitutionalize” the “transatlantic alliance” and NATO’s role, which is a flagrant denial of the theories that defend the militarization of the EU and its assertion as an economic-political-military bloc that would ensure “Europe’s autonomy” and counter the hegemonistic designs of US imperialism.

The struggle against militarism and war, for disarmament and in defence of peace, of solidarity with the peoples who are victims of imperialist interference and aggression is a fundamental task of the current moment. In this sense, the PCP fights for the withdrawal of the troops of aggression from Iraq and Afghanistan and other occupied countries, for the dissolution of NATO, against foreign military bases, for agreements that may lead to the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Another serious cause for concern in relation to the international context has to do with the growing attacks against rights, freedoms and guarantees that are taking place. With the pretext of the so-called “war on terrorism”, of which Bush is the main sponsor, they are promoting authoritarian and even fascistic views and practices.

Every day we receive news of new war crimes, of flagrant violations of the most basic human rights in prisons and concentration camps, of illegal and criminal activities by the CIA and other imperialist secret services, of massacres of civilian populations, of kidnappings and torture, of measures and laws that seek to criminalize resistance against oppression and persecute and even ban progressive forces. The recent adoption, by the US Congress, of the “legalization” of torture, represents a fascistic trend that is all the more serious in that it did not meet with any significant reaction by the “western democracies”, who are always so quick to draw swords against peoples whom they wish to subject under the pretext of human rights.

It is in this context that we see the growing historical revisionism, the whitewashing of fascism and the re-launching of anti-communism, of which the banning of the Czech Communist Youth – to whom we pledge our firm solidarity – and the adoption by the European Parliament of a motion that seeks to criminalize the Communist ideology itself, are examples. All this demands firm opposition, so that what Bertolt Brecht warned us about, in his poem “It is necessary to act”, in which “first they take the Communists” and the others don’t care until it is their turn, may never happen again.

Comrades,

The international situation has, in reality, disturbing traits that we must not underestimate. But at the same time, it presents – in confirmation of the analyses and prospects indicated by the PCP’s 17th Congress – elements of confidence in the possibility of inverting the present course of world development and of achieving progressive and even revolutionary advances.

Everywhere, the resistance and struggle of the workers and the peoples continues, in a process that is knowing extremely harsh struggles and unimaginable suffering, as is the case with the heroic Palestinian people, but in which surprising victories and progressive turnarounds are also possible. This is what is happening in Latin America, with a wave of hope that undoubtedly has many open questions and uncertainties and is under target by imperialism, but which, having arrived where it did – with the heroic resistance of Socialist Cuba, the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, the turn to the left in Bolivia and the democratic processes in Brazil and other countries, as well as with the blows dealt against the re-colonizing FTAA project – is already a great incentive for the progressive forces of the whole world.

The USA and their allies are learning a lesson in Iraq and Afghanistan that has long been taught them, but which it is in the nature of capitalism to forget: that the peoples do not submit to imperialist diktats, they aspire to freedom, and social justice, they do not give up their sovereignty. Those who thought that the submission of these peoples would be quick and certain, find themselves stuck in the quagmire which they themselves have created, with growing losses and the growing opposition to war of public opinions in their own countries. Bush, in a rare moment of lucidity, even compared Iraq to Vietnam, which is not entirely true, but which shows well the very strong resistance that the invading troops are having to confront.

Yes, comrades. In very diversified conditions, everywhere the resistance and the liberation struggle of the workers and the peoples proceeds. We could multiply the examples, beginning with Europe, where strikes, demonstrations and other mass actions against capital’s offensive have taken place. But there is a people that we do not wish to forget here, that is confronting the conspiracy against its right to decide, in sovereignty, its own future: the people of East Timor, to whom we express here – as well as to its great liberation force, Fretilin, the fraternal solidarity of the Portuguese Communsits.

Comrades,

The experience of the PCP and of the Portuguese revolution confirms that for the advance of the liberation process and the struggle against imperialism, it is necessary to combine the struggle in each country with the cooperation on an international level, and that patriotism and internationalism are two sides of the same coin. Profoundly engaged, as we are, in national tasks, in the struggle against the right-wing policies of the Socialist Party government at the service of big business, we are at the same time committed to help strengthen the cooperation of all left-wing and anti-imperialist forces and first of all to strengthen the cooperation of Communist and Workers’ Parties – not in alternative to, but rather as a necessary condition for, the strengthening of a vast anti-imperialist front.

We consider that in our times, with the enlargement of the spectrum of social classes and strata that are affected by the exploitation of big business and which are objectively interested in the revolutionary overcoming of capitalism, the notion of internationalism is also expanding; but its central core continues, in our opinion, to be the solidarity between the workers, the cooperation between communists, proletarian internationalism. Hence the importance of, within the broader framework of cooperation of the anti-imperialist and revolutionary forces, giving the Meeting that is taking place in Lisbon our commitment – always respecting the independence of each Party and the diversity of their positions – to develop joint or converging actions.

The times that we face on a world level are difficult times of resistance and of accumulating strength, but they are also times of heroic struggles and great progressive and revolutionary potential, in which the Communist parties, side by side with other progressive and revolutionary forces, have an irreplaceable role to play. Our own liberating experience of 85 years of struggle teaches us that the main factor of resistance and of liberating advances lies in the Party, in its close links to the working class and the masses, lies in the intransigent defence of its characteristics that arose during the struggle – its class nature, the Marxist-Leninist ideology, inner-Party democracy, the goal of socialism, patriotism and internationalism. These characteristics ensure our unity and define our own communist identity. Our experience also teaches us that strengthening the internationalist solidarity of the Communists, of progressive people, of the workers and the people, is indispensable to roll back the current dangerous course of world events and achieve new liberating advances.

We value and thank the presence in Lisbon and in our Rally of the representatives of so many friendly organizations, whom we wish to assure – as well as to all those who due to difficulties could not be present – of the Portuguese Communists’ friendship, and wish great success for the struggles that you wage in your own countries.

Long Live the International Meeting!
Long live the solidarity of the Communists, the workers and the peoples!
Long live the PCP!

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