Statement of the PCP Central Committee of December 15th - 16th, 2013

Having analysed the national situation, the worsening economic and social situation and the consequences that Portugal will suffer as a result of the 2014 State Budget adoption, it was reasserted that mass struggle is the key element in fighting the ongoing offensive. The Central Committee expressed solidarity with ongoing struggles, and appealed to workers, communities, and to all democrats and patriots to not give up in the face of the offensive and to fight for a patriotic and left-wing alternative.The Central Committee highlighted the dimension, scope and significance of the events held as part of Álvaro Cunhal's centennial, and adopted two resolutions: One on organisational party-strengthening, and another on the April Revolution's 40th anniversary celebration in 2014.

1. A State Budget to plunder workers and the people. A new social terrorism package.

The situation that Portugal is confronting today – the outcome of over 37 years of right-wing policies, of the European Union's capitalist integration process, and of the very nature of capitalism's structural crisis – reflects its journey of economic decline and social retrogression: Initially with the PS's [Socialist Party's] PECs [Growth and Stability Pacts], then with the Aggression Pact underwritten by the PS, PSD and CDS [parties] with the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Both were contributing factors to accelerate and exacerbate this decline and retrogression.

These policies have subjected Portugal to the interests of domestic and foreign big capital. They have plunged Portugal into the longest economic recession in its history. Unemployment is at close to one and a half million workers, poverty is spreading and huge sections of the population are being impoverished. Investment levels are close to what they were in the 1950s, and debt level and foreign dependence are at their highest since fascist times [1926-1974]. If left undefeated, these policies and this government threaten to destroy the living conditions of the vast majority of Portugal's population, to raze the national economy, to jeopardise Portugal's sovereignty, independence and future.

The 2014 State Budget, recently adopted at the Assembly of the Republic [parliament] with PSD and CDS votes, is one more tool for the policy of exploitation and liquidation of rights. With its more than 4,400 million euros worth of additional austerity measures, the State Budget exacerbates even further the earlier measures' class nature. On the one hand there are wage cuts for public administration workers, pension cuts, cuts in social benefits, in the National Health Service, in Public Education, in social services, in the justice system, in culture and in Local Governments. On the other hand, thousands of millions are channeled into the pockets of big business, as public debt interest payments, as public-private partnerships, as SWAP contracts and other ruinous contracts concluded with private interests. Tax breaks and privileges are granted to big capital (including Off-shore [banking] in Madeira [island]), with direct subsidies to recapitalise banks and guarantees granted to the financial sector.

Rather than “inevitable” (as they try to label the path that is being followed) what is happening in our country is a clear, well-planned and deceitful choice made by the current cabinet. It is clear because each euro stolen from wages, pensions or the incomes of micro and small-scale businesspersons and farmers, will be used as it has been in the past, to maintain the untouchable rentist and parasitic nature of the monopoly conglomerates that operate in Portugal, and not to solve any of the nation's problems. It is well-planned because what is being done at this time is to use the crisis as an excuse to settle old scores with the rights and gains attained by the April [1974] Revolution – the State is being reconfigured to serve big capital, to intensify the exploitation of workers, to cut wages and rights, to lengthen working hours. It is deceitful because it is portrayed as a path to “liberate” Portugal from the troika, while the much-touted “return to the markets” amounts basically to perpetuating impoverishment and austerity as a way of life throughout the next decades, as a future for Portugal and as a source of profits and privileges for big capital – thus sentencing Portugal to submission and subordination to transnational capital and to imperialism.

When confronted about the disaster into which they are plunging Portugal, the Government, the monopoly conglomerates and those who serve them lash out with a campaign of lies, manipulation and concealment of the truth to justify their continuation on the same policies that have led Portugal's people to such a dramatic situation. It is the “Portuguese miracle” fraud, based on gross manipulation of statistical figures: they ignore the more than 130,000 workers who have emigrated from Portugal in 2013 and the actual destruction of jobs, and tell us that unemployment is dropping; they portray the trade balance surpluses as successes, when in actual fact what they reflect is a dramatic drop in domestic consumption and investment which means poverty and backwardness (just like the dramatic poverty of 1943, with which they repeatedly compare it); they play around with seasonal GDP figures and employment fluctuations to portray the economic retrogression that has pulled national GDP back to year 2000 levels as a positive development.

2. Defeat the government and right-wing policies, to implement patriotic and left-wing policies

The PCP Central Committee reasserts that – with the march toward exploitation, decline and social retrogression that has been imposed upon Portugal, and the plans to perpetuate it – the government's dismissal and a call for early elections are decisive and urgent issues.

Together with the “signs of change” campaign, scaremongering has been stepped up with the fraudulent allegation that “we can't throw away now all the sacrifices of recent years”. Through the dominant mass media, government and economic and financial conglomerates are seeking to generate acceptance and conformism – to ensure that people accept the devastating measures introduced in the State Budget that has just been adopted, and also to create conditions to be able to adopti the follow-up measures that are being prepared to sustain the current policies.

The PCP Central Committee denounces the ongoing operations seeking to consolidate and institutionalise the current offensive against the incomes and rights of Portugal's workers and people. The so-called “blueprint for State reform” is not, as some have hastened to say, a vague text with no content.

Rather, it is a document that maps out further steps in the anti-democratic crusade that right-wing policies have been waging for a long time now. It is true that the “blueprint” does include some aspects that are already present in the government's line and practice, but its ambition is not just to consolidate the ongoing process to reconfigure the State to serve monopoly capital. It also seeks to include, and justify, subverting the Constitution as a pre-condition for implementing the process.

Far from any plans for Portugal to recover its status as a sovereign and independent country (as they deceitfully proclaim), what PSD and CDS are preparing – with the President of the Republic's full complicity – is to bind Portugal to new commitments and undertakings that will make it possible to continue to plunder the nation's income and resources, to maintain the conditions and factors of national dependence, to provide guarantees for the ongoing extortion process that benefits transnational capital and the European Union's directorate of powers. With the excuse of “returning to the markets” next June (“forgetting” that that was the goal set for last September), what the Government and the institutions that represent transnational capital are preparing is a new aggression programme, no matter what name it may be given. The PCP Central Committee calls attention to the ongoing manoeuvering to effectively ensure the Agrgression Pact's perpetuation – by invoking the case of Ireland and appealing to consensus and social peace (and also manoeuvering to once again ensure the UGT's [the PS-PSD-leaning trade union central] complicity in the social concertation council), presenting them as examples and necessary conditions to complete the Aggression Pact's implementation. The PS has stopped demanding the Government's dismissal and calling for new elections and is now involved with, and supporting, the European Union's major decisions to create mechanisms to expropriate nations' economic and budgetary sovereignty. This shows that the PS is clearly converging with the plans that are being drawn up under European Union auspices to continue on the current path of usurpation and exploitation.

The PCP Central Committee reasserts that it is urgent to break with right-wing policies and change Portugal's direction, clearing the road for alternative, patriotic and left-wing policies. This is absolutely necessary for Portugal to ensure that it has a future, a future of social justice and progress, as a sovereign and independent country. These policies must be capable of freeing Portugal from dependence and submission, of ensuring that what is Portugal's be returned to Portugal, and of reinstating workers' and people's rights, salaries and incomes.

This policy shall be based on six basic tenets:

- Renegotiate the debt – amount, interest rates, duration, conditions of payment – rejecting its illegitimate part;

- protect and increase domestic production, returning the financial sector and other strategic companies and sectors to State ownership;

- raise the real value of salaries and pensions, and explicitly undertake to reinstate stolen salaries, incomes and rights, including social benefits;

- opt for a budget policy that rejects excessive and lavish spending, and is based on higher taxes over big capital's dividends and profits, and relief for workers, pensioners and micro-, small- and medium-scale businesses;

- policies to protect and recover public services, especially those involved in social functions of the State;
adopt sovereign policies, and assert the primacy of national interests;

3. Mass struggle – the response to exploitation and impoverishment.

Workers' struggles have been a decisive factor in hindering right-wing policies and their consequences in these past two and a half years – confronting the fierce offensive against workers' and communities' rights, and the onslaughts against Portugal's democratic regime and sovereignty, that are set to become even worse with the social terrorism programme that the Government and the foreign troika have underway, and of which the 2014 State Budget is part and parcel.

The struggle has been waged in workplaces, against the theft of salaries, against the destruction of productive capabilities, in defence of jobs and for jobs with rights (particularly prominent has been the struggle of the Viana do Castelo Shipyard (ENVC) workers), for better working conditions, against the privatisation of public-sector companies, for better public services (as in the case of the public transportation and Post Office workers).

An especially prominent aspect of the ongoing offensive has been the campaign against the role of the State, and of the public sector in general. Its goal is to place more and more public resources in the service of big capital, instead of serving the workers, the people, and Portugal's development.

The PCP Central Committee highlighted – from among the many ongoing struggles against privatisation of the State's social functions, against the lengthening and deregulation of working hours, against the theft of wages, to defend jobs and dignify their function – the strongly-participated National Strike of 8 November last, called by the Common Front of Public Administration Workers' Trade Unions, as well as the sectoral protests by PJ [Judicial Police] Investigators, SEF [Border and Immigration Service], Public Attorney Magistrates and Court Officials. The PCP CC also highlighted the strikes at Carris [Lisbon buses and trams], CP [rail transportation], CP Carga [rail freight], REFER [railway infrastructure], Metro [Lisbon Underground], STCP [Oporto Public Transport], Transtejo and Soflusa [Ferry services] and CTT [Post Office].

The PCP Central Committee highlights three landmark struggles of workers and other strata, that have brought to the fore their courage and determination and raised the mass struggle to new levels. The “March for April, against exploitation and impoverishment” on 19 October in Lisbon, Oporto, and the Azores and Madeira Autonomous Regions; the “National Day of Indignation and Struggle” on 26 November all over the country. Both were convened by CGTP-IN and had the participation of hundreds of thousands of people from very diverse areas of work (workers from Public Administration, from the private sector, as well as micro, small and medium scale business owners), young people, pensioners, and other members of the population. And also the first-ever joint demonstration by all organisations representing security forces and services – PSP [police], GNR [republican guard - para-military body], Maritime Police, Municipal Police, SEF [borders and immigration], PJ [judiciary police], ASAE [health and sanitation inspection service] – against cuts in their pay and in their rights.

In broadening the struggle's social front, a significant role has been played by the struggles of old-age and other pensioners, of micro-, small- and medium-scale business owners, of working youth, of students, of intellectuals and technical workers, of culture workers, and of local communities. Particularly prominent have been the struggles against debasing and closures of public services: in health, education, Finance offices, Courts of law, security forces' stations and precincts, shutdowns of public transportation lines. These struggles have mobilised thousands of people in the struggle for specific goals, and have brought together many diverse sections and strata converging into the wider social struggle against right-wing policies.

The mass struggles' scope – involving the working class and working people generally, but also other non-monopoly classes and strata, – their strength, diversity, degree of convergence, as well as the causes and goals that have originated them, all confirm how important convergence is – both as a key element in holding back the right-wing policies, and as an important contribution to broaden the struggle's social front and to raise the masses' social and political awareness.

The deep crisis that Portugal is undergoing – with its serious economic and social consequences – is above all the result of 37 years of right-wing policies that have depleted the nation's productive apparatus, systematically violated workers' most basic rights, led to the impoverishment of democracy itself. This situation highlights the need to bring together all those who aspire to a patriotic and left-wing political alternative, a true alternative where the PCP's proposals count and weigh in, decisively.

The Central Committee reasserts that in this situation of deep social dissatisfaction, affecting working people as well as all anti-monopoly strata, that exhibits contradictory facets – on the one hand revolt, and on the other discouragement – unity-centered political work is particularly important. This work implies engagement and involvement by the whole Party, to bring about a convergence of all those who are available and willing to fight for the implementation of alternative policies.

Discouragement, disbelief, hopelessness, abstention, failure to make the political and electoral choices that best defend the people's interests from right-wing policies – would all only aid the continuation of right-wing anti-worker policies.

The PCP Central Committee draws attention to the fact that the 2014 State Budget's adoption – together with a bunch of anti-social measures such as raising the retirement age, dismissal of tens of thousands of Public Administration workers, longer working hours, a brutal cut in pensions and intensification of the State reconfiguration process – will in coming months necessitate intensified mass struggle as a decisive factor in upholding our rights and in resisting against the liquidation of social gains.

The PCP Central Committee calls upon the workers and people to confront this offensive, stepping up the struggle to solve their real problems – starting with participation in the struggles convened by CGTP-IN [trade union confederation], and in particular the Vigil next Thursday 19 December 2013 at Belem [presidential palace] – demanding a break with right-wing policies and early elections as important steps in the struggle for a patriotic and left-wing alternative.

Although hard and demanding, the struggle is decisive, to block the crisis, improve living conditions, condition and influence the political process, offset new offensives and attacks, redress injustices and gain new rights.

Portugal's future lies in the hands of its workers and people and their struggle for change.

4. Recent development of the European Union

The Central Committee analysed key aspects in the European Union's development. Contrary to dominant ideology's campaign about an alleged recovery, the European Union is in a deep economic and social crisis, that is reflected in expected economic stagnation following a period of deep economic recession in the whole of the eurozone and in the European Union-27, with an exacerbation of social scourges such as the unemployment affecting 27 million workers.

In attempting to respond to the contradictions and rivalries that have emerged as a result of capitalism's deepening crisis, big European capital and the German-led directorate of powers insist on propping up the European Union's neo-liberal, militaristic and federalist pillars.

The ongoing process to tighten Economic and Monetary Union; the economic governance guidelines from the European semester and from the 2020 Strategy; the “budget treaty”; the Banking Union and the Single Supervisory Mechanism; the Single Market's reinforcement and extension to new profit-making areas; the recently adopted macroeconomic conditionality rules for the allocation of European funds; the reduction in the already ridiculous community budget – taken as a whole, and viewed as a follow-up to what was already enshrined in the Stability Pact, imply that nearly absolute constraints are being imposed upon social and economic development and sovereignty. They are an attempt to “normalise” and institutionalise the “adjustment”, and to perpetuate the ongoing social retrogression in the EU. The sole goal of this process is to serve the big monopolies' interests and to continue to shell out millions to support Bankers.

At the same time, the European Union is continuing, and intensifying, its assertion as an imperialist bloc. The Central Committee alerts to the dangers inherent in the European Union's process of increasing militarisation, as part of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) that will be up for debate in the European Council. It is an attempt to transpose the NATO Strategic Concept into the EU's institutional structure – specifically by increasing military spending and developing the European industrial-military complex.

As the recent political agreement between the right wing and social-democrats in Germany seems to indicate (it includes specific points on European issues), those in charge of the capitalist integration process agree on not only sticking to the current path – which is in itself a factor that will generate fresh crisis episodes – but also on intensifying it, with new thoroughly anti-democratic and anti-social measures to concentrate and centralise economic and political power.

5. Elections to the European parliament and the struggle for patriotic left-wing policies

The PCP will be contesting the upcoming 25 May election to the European parliament as part of the CDU [coalition]. It will be an important political and electoral battle. Coordinated with the Party's overall work and with the struggle's development, it will contribute toward the government's inevitable defeat and to making a break with right-wing policies.

Some will seek – using the European Parliament election as an excuse – to conceal Portugal's economic and social problems and avoid addressing the class nature of the government's economic policies and their consequences. The PCP Central Committee stresses how necessary and important it is to build up a strategy of awareness-raising and electoral work that can – focusing on Portugal's situation and national problems – identify a CDU vote as the strongest and most decisive choice to assert our right to sovereign development.

The campaign should expose the nature of the capitalist European integration process – as a tool to serve big capital, to ensure heightened exploitation and liquidation of rights. It should expose the government's policies and the Aggression Pact as core factors in impoverishing Portugal and its people, and in denying us rights and social benefits that are enshrined in the Constitution. It should expose the ongoing manoeuvres – through EU tools created as a result of capital concentration – to perpetuate the theft of wages and incomes and the plunder of national resources. It should expose the increasingly untenable constraints being imposed by the Euro and by other aspects of the capitalist integration process, and show how to protect the rights of Portugal's workers and people, who have already suffered through decades of policies and decisions that run counter to their aspirations and rights. It should call attention to the smokescreens – raised by PSD and CDS, and also by PS and others who invoke a so-called “left-wing Europeanism” – that are being used to promote European federalism (labelled as “European democracy” and the like) as an alleged solution for Portugal's problems – while in fact what that would mean would be further centralisation of political power and expropriation of peoples' sovereignty in favour of big capital and the big powers.

The European Parliament election must be viewed as an opportunity to strengthen the CDU, and thus provide the thrust to build patriotic and left-wing policies – as an essential pre-condition to uphold the rights and interests of Portugal's workers and people, to assert national sovereignty and free Portugal from the path on which it being led by right-wing policies: social retrogression, economic decline and dependence.

The PCP Central Committee calls upon its members and organisations to build up an election campaign based on personal contact with workers, with people. This is essential to raise awareness and to confidently assert that it is possible to open up a new path, with alternative policies and a new direction for Europe. The campaign should present the vote for CDU as the most consistent contribution possible to:

- socially and politically isolate the government and lead to its dismissal, to early elections, and to a defeat for right-wing policies;

- broaden and intensify the struggle to protect workers' and people's rights, salaries and incomes, and to reinstate them;

- expose all those who – like the PS – while feigning opposition and distance from the current government, actually fully share the EU's neo-liberal, federalist and militarist views, and even wish to move further on the same path toward disaster using the EU's economic and political domination tools;

- assert the April [1974 revolution's] values and achievements as key components of an alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy – a necessary condition to ensure a better life in a Portugal with a future, and to struggle for a Europe of peace, social progress and cooperation among sovereign States with equal rights;

- struggle to free Portugal from the constraints imposed by the European Union, recovering its political, economic and monetary sovereignty.

The PCP Central Committee stresses how important it is to strengthen the CDU, increase the number of its MEPs to steadfastly defend Portuguese interests, to minimise the conditioning and negative effects of integration, to use all available means and opportunities to struggle for social progress and against supra-national impositions and the limitations placed on democracy and on the people's will, to act specifically and in coordination with the workers and peoples of other countries to break with the capitalist European integration process. These MEPs' presence will be different from all others': it will consider Portugal's specific problems as the core reason for their participation in the European Parliament. Distinct from all others, their presence will assert Portugal's right to sovereign development according to its workers' and people's national interests, which should prevail over any conditioning or constraints.

6. For a stronger International Communist and Revolutionary Movement

The Central Committee highly values the 15th International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties held in Lisbon on 8-10 November 2013, with the participation of 75 parties from 63 countries of all continents.

The 15th IMCWP was an important step in the International Meetings process, due to the significant number of participants, the topical themes debated, as well as the extensive exchange of information, experiences and opinions that it enabled. A significant number of guidelines for common or convergent action were adopted, and a will was expressed to continue and reinforce this multilateral cooperation process.

Since the adoption of a final Declaration was not possible, the PCP took the initiative of, and responsibility for, drafting a Motion on “The world situation and the workers' and peoples' struggle” that was underwritten by 56 parties.

As the host Party, the PCP worked wholeheartedly to prepare and host the 15th IMCWP, striving – within the terms of fraternal relations, and using collective work as a method – for it to contribute to strengthen this important forum of internationalist exchange and cooperation.

Fully aware of the fact that there are inevitably differences of opinion and even, in some cases, major disagreements, the PCP will continue to strive toward strengthening, unifying the International Communist and Revolutionary Movement and its operational capabilities – based on a frank and fraternal debate of common problems, and on the principles of equality, mutual respect, non-interference in internal affairs and mutual solidarity, and rejecting the various – be they adaptation to the system, or dogmatic and sectarian – types of opportunism.

The PCP will continue its engagement in international solidarity with the political and social forces that – in their respective countries – fight to defend workers' and peoples' interests, and to broaden and expand the anti-imperialist front.

7. A stronger and more influential PCP

Concerning the implementation of the 19th Party Congress's resolutions and goals, the PCP Central Committee stresses how important it is – as a continuing priority task for all party members and organisations – to strengthen the Party and all its components.

The PCP Central Committee analysed and extolled the national campaign against exploitation and impoverishment organised by Party organisations all over Portugal with the slogan “We've had enough of thefts and lies”. Hundreds of thousands of people were contacted in street actions, public meetings and rallies, to denounce the 2014 State Budget's goals and the right-wing policies, and to put forward the alternative, patriotic and left-wing policies for which the PCP stands.

The PCP Central Committee highlighted the success of all the events that were organised to celebrate Álvaro Cunhal's centennial. Among the most prominent was the Conference on “Álvaro Cunhal, the communist prospect, Portugal and the world today”. It was held on 26-27 October, and its breadth of participants and contributions confirmed Álvaro Cunhal's influence, as well as the relevance of his theoretical and political legacy for the current times. There was also the rally at Campo Pequeno [arena in Lisbon] on 10 November, whose size, level of participation, and the strength and unity it demonstrated made it a high point in the commemorations. There was the Central Exhibition on Álvaro Cunhal's “Life, Thinking and Struggle: An Example That Lives On In Our Time And Into The Future”, that was visited by thousands of people at the Oporto Customs Conference Centre.

The commemorations are still ongoing, with dozens of events taking place all over Portugal. The commemorations will close on 3-4 January 2014 celebrating the heroic [January 1960] escape from Peniche [prison], in what will also be the opening event for the April Revolution's 40th anniversary commemoration.

The PCP highlights the following as the key tasks in implementing the 19th Congress resolutions and to provide the necessary response to Portugal's current plight:

- in the course of 2014, to undertake a national event focusing on the April [1974 revolution's] values, and on advancing a patriotic and left-wing policy. This should be integrated, and coordinated, with the run-up to the European election, the 25 April [revolution's] 40th anniversary celebration, and the work and struggle to defeat the Aggression Pact, dismiss the cabinet and break with right-wing policies. It should stand out in asserting workers' rights and improving living conditions, and in asserting national sovereignty and independence as key elements in solving Portugal's problems;

- work to extend, dynamise and diversify workers' and communities' struggles;

- strengthen the unitary trade-union movement as well as the mass organisations and movements;

- undertake wide-ranging work to improve Party organisation and structure, raise militancy, assign more responsibilities to more members, step up work. This will involve contacting Party members, delivering the new Party cards, updating their data, creating better conditions for more extensive, far-reaching and intensive political work. This is to be an overall party-strengthening exercise, with special attention to workplace-based actions, to dynamising grassroots organisations, to assigning responsibilities to members, and to recruiting those who stand out in developing the struggle;

- contribute toward the success of the 10th JCP [communist youth] Congress, to be held on 5-6 April in Lisbon;

- improve unitary work, to broaden the range of convergent actions together with the thousands of democrats and patriots who want to break with right-wing policies;

- promote a large number of events to mark the 40th anniversary of the 25 April [1974 revolution], to assert its values and achievements, as well as its relevance today in establishing the core elements for a progress-oriented, developed and sovereign Portugal;

- start work to prepare the 25 May European Parliament election, publicising and highlighting our past work there and raising awareness about how important it is to strengthen the PCP's representation – as a pre-condition to a more consistent defence of Portugal, its workers and people, and to ensure sovereign development;

- the PCP Central Committee has decided to schedule the 38th “Avante!” Festival for 5-7 September 2014;

- develop internationalist solidarity, contribute to strengthen the anti-imperialist movement, to improve cooperation with left-wing forces and progressive organisations, and to enhance the convergent action of communist and workers' parties for a stronger international communist and revolutionary movement.

Placing its trust in the workers' and people's strength and capabilities, engaging in developing and broadening the front of fighters, the PCP reasserts its determination in the struggle to break with right-wing policies and to implement a patriotic and left-wing alternative for Advanced Democracy, for Socialism and Communism.

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  • Álvaro Cunhal
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