Statement of the PCP Central Committee of May 5, 2013

The Portuguese Communist Party Central Committee met on 5 May 2013 to analyse developments in the economic and social situation (worsening recession and a deteriorating social situation), as well as the political and institutional crisis that has arisen as a result of the Cabinet's actions. Sidestepping the law and operating against the Constitution, the Cabinet has been jeopardising the normal operation of state institutions, amid the full complicity of the President of the Republic, who in turn is acting counter to his own Constitutional responsibilities and duties. In addition, the Central Committee debated and set out the major guidelines for the PCP's political work, with a view to urgently obtaining the Cabinet's dismissal, a call to fresh elections, a rejection of the Aggression Pact and a defeat for right-wing policies, as well as the establishment of a patriotic and left-wing policy and Cabinet. The Central Committee discussed the mass struggles, and the measures to be taken to develop them, as well as establishing the key tasks to be undertaken in preparation for the local government elections, and in organisationally strengthening the PCP.

1. Two years of Aggression Pact: The march toward economic and social disaster.

1. The PS, PSD and CDS [political parties] signed the Aggression Pact and have been implementing it, leading Portugal toward an economic and social abyss.

The PCP was correct when on 5 April 2011 it warned about the fact that the illegitimate decision taken – to shackle Portugal to a so-called adjustment programme signed with the European Union, the IMF and the ECB – would lead to a national disaster.
Now, two years later, Portugal has been plunged into a spiral of austerity and economic recession with dramatic economic and social consequences. This is the outcome of an Aggression Pact and of policies that were designed to sserve capitalist accumulation and the monopoly conglomerates' profits, to increase the exploitation of workers and to destroy economic and social rights, and are pushing Portugal toward impoverishment, decline and growing dependence.

In these two years, all the major economic and social indicators have deteriorated: cumulative recession of -5.5% of GDP; over 430,000 people have lost their jobs, and there are now over 1,400,000 unemployed; a mean drop of 9.2% in real wages; a 10% drop in the spending of families; over 250,000 Portuguese, most of them young people, have been forced to emigrate; public debt has risen by 48,000,000,000 euros in this period, and now stands at a record 123% of GDP.

2. Belying all the groundless macro-economic predictions and promises of recovery that had been made, Portugal's situation lays bare the result and the dramatic consequences of policies that have not solved any of the nation's problems, and are in fact key elements in worsening them. These policies and this cabinet must be stopped.

The Cabinet has attempted to portray the Troika's seventh evaluation (that itself confirms a future with more recession, more unemployment and less prospects of a way out for Portugal's problems) as having been positive. This is a shameless distortion of reality, and an insult to the Portuguese people's intelligence. It is merely an attempt to cover up the programme's consequences and to justify new and even more grievous measures.

Cloaking it as a so-called “reform of the State” – and portraying the Constitutional Court and the Constitution of the Republic as the cause of the problems that their policies have been exacerbating – [prime-minister] Passos Coelho on behalf of the PSD/CDS cabinet announced on 3 May a fresh programme of social terrorism to follow up on the Aggression Pact. It involves more thefts against pensioners, a new onslaught against workers' rights, one more step forward in the liquidation of people's rights, new devastating cuts to the health system, to social security and education, an attack against the military and security forces. At the same time thousands of millions of euros are earmarked for interest on debt, for high profitability of PPPs [“public-private partnerships”], illegitimate rents for the energy sector, ruinous credit swaps, and continuing coverage for the BPN's [failed private bank] losses. This programme is a reflection of capitalism's nature and of its worsening crisis, and is deeply noxious to the workers' and people's interests.

It is one more step on the road to social and economic disaster, a declaration of war against the workers, the people and the nation – as had already been hinted at earlier by the “2014-2016 Budget Strategy Document”.

It is a set of devastating measures – and if this cabinet's policies and actions are not stopped, they will be fiercely on display in the amending budget announced for later this month, and in future State Budgets – that are not targetted specifically against Public Administration workers and pensioners. The devastation wrought by these measures will affect all economic activities, the survival of thousands of businesses, the lives of millions of families.

In just a few days, the propaganda manoeuvre launched by the Economy Minister when he presented a so-called “2013-2020 Economic Growth and Promotion Strategy”, has been laid bare by the announcement of the one and only programme that guides the cabinet's work: more exploitation of workers, social retrogression and austerity for the majority of the people, and privileges for big capital.

2. An unsustainable process of economic decline, social retrogression and national abdication

1. In the midst of this march toward disaster, the cabinet and the supporters of foreign interference had been, repeatedly and falsely, talking about 2013 as the turnaround and recovery year. Just over two months ago, Portugal and the Portuguese people were informed that the intention is to prolong their economic and social agony for many years to come.

The cabinet now stands for “restructuring” the [Troika] memorandum and the debt. While this is undoubtedly a sign of admission that the Aggression Pact's measures and conditions have failed to address the stated goal of correcting Portugal's structural imbalances, the fact is that it does not change the burden of impositions and conditions laid out in the submission and dependence “memorandum”, nor does it signal an intention to break the austerity and recession spiral and establish a sustainable process of payment for the legitimate component of the public debt. On the contrary, what they are seeking is to maintain their margin to manoeuvre (they realise they are losing it) and continue to implement their goals.

Every “success” touted by the cabinet amounts to one more step in the implementation of their exploitation, decline and submission project. Each Troika evaluation means new austerity measures, thefts of wages, pensions and other incomes. The so-called extension of “maturities” in practice means longer payment periods with no change in interest rates and no re-evaluation of the amounts loaned. Under these conditions this will essentially serve the creditors' interests (since there will be more interest to pay) and not Portugal's interests. It is just a sweetener to justify further austerity measures and a fierce attack against the State's social functions.

2. The [latest] commitment made to the Troika, involving a further package of measures with a view to a new onslaught against workers' and people's salaries and incomes, reveals that the cabinet has become a veritable board of directors on behalf of big capital, the IMF and the European Union, ready to sacrifice the nation's interests and the livelihood of Portugal's people to big national and transnational capital's interests. [Prime-minister] Passos Coelho's letter of submission to international creditors shows that their recent cynical and intolerable actions to counter the Constitutional Court's ruling was a falsehood. It also shows that the cabinet has been planning for months to shackle Portugal to a new rescue package.

3. The PCP Central Committee denounces the PS [Socialist Party] leadership's stance. While containing some statements about opposition to the cabinet, it actually confirms that the PS wants to stick to its commitment to the aggression programme against Portugal, that it is sticking to the national disaster policies' goals and choices, and that it continues to be tied to big capital's interests and to the subordination strategy that the European Union wants to impose on Portugal. Their intermittent references to dismissal of the cabinet do not correspond to any real political intention. They repeatedly swear to abide by their undertakings in the “memorandum” they signed with the troika, using the latter to justify their availability to examine, together with the cabinet, new undertakings involving exploitation of workers and attacks on social rights and gains. They remain silent concerning reinstatement of labour rights, of stolen incomes or social support benefits. They give the cabinet pathetic advice about policy changes, and criticise creditors “insensitivity”, but reject a true debt renegotiation. In particular, PS General Secretary António José Seguro's appeal to “social-democrats” and “christian-democrats” to join with the PS, exposes very clearly their goal: seeking to regain absolute power, in order to maintain the key elements of the right-wing policies and of the march toward national disaster that they are pretending to oppose.

4. Nothing can avoid the crucial issue laid bare by Portugal's reality: this is an unsustainable path being imposed upon a country that is subjugated by an unpayable debt. What Portugal requires, in the midst of this economic and social chaos into which it is being led, is not a so-called “restructuring of the memorandum”, but rather its rejection and a speedy debt renegotiation (interest rates, payment period and amounts) as was proposed by the PCP and is increasingly being demanded by other forces, circles and personalities from different social and political quarters.

3. A deep political and institutional crisis, a troubling anti-democratic turn

Portugal is witnessing a veritable hijacking of its democratic institutions by those whose plan is to hand over national interests, collaborate with the programme to centralise and concentrate capital, exploit and impoverish Portugal's people, plunder the nation's resources and the workers' and people's incomes.

The most recent developments reveal a socially isolated and politically defeated cabinet reneging on its pre-election promises, and seeking desperately to cling to power so as to continue destroying the lives of Portugal and the Portuguese.

It is a cabinet, a majority and a policy of outlaws, clashing with the Constitution of the Republic, and in practice imposing a veritable state of emergency. In their operation, this cabinet, majority and policy view Portugal's Constitution as a hindrance to their plans, they view other institutions such as the Courts and the judiciary as targets to be shot down, they suspend basic principles underlying the State's Administration and work. This cabinet, majority and policy have long since placed the institutions' regular operation in jeopardy, with active and complicit support from the President of the Republic (so ostensibly exhibited in his 25 April speech before the Assembly of the Republic [parliament]). The President has thus confirmed before the country that he is part of the problem.

Contrary to what [PSD prime-minister] Passos Coelho's and [CDS foreign minister] Paulo Portas's PSD/CDS cabinet states, it is not the Constitution or the Portuguese people (whom they have told to emigrate) that are out of place in Portugal. What is out of place is the cabinet, the parliamentary majority, the Aggression Pact, and the President of the Republic who has emerged as a mere sponsor for an illegitimate cabinet.

When the stated goals of a policy are subordination of democracy – with liquidation (in practice) of some of its expressions – to the ongoing project of foreign dependency, it is not just Portugal's future that is under threat, it is the democratic and constitutional regime that is at stake.

In this situation, the PCP stresses how especially important it is for the Armed Forces and the security forces to refuse to be used to serve unconstitutional actions by the cabinet, the parliamentary majority that backs it and the President of the Republic that supports it, and undertake to serve the People and the Nation by respecting the Constitution.

At this juncture it is more than ever up to the workers and people to – with their struggle, fully exercising their constitutional rights including the right to resistance – defend democracy and freedoms, assert the Constitution's primacy, guarantee national independence, and carry the April [1974 revolution's] values into Portugal's future.

4. The core task for all democrats and patriots: Dismiss the cabinet, reject the Aggression Pact, defeat right-wing policies

It is urgent to make a break with this march toward national disaster, and to defeat the intensive ongoing ideological campaign based on fallacious “inevitables” and on fairytale promises of recovery.

Everyone must choose between accepting to have a subjugated and occupied country (that the cabinet, big capital and the backers of right-wing policies want for Portugal) or on the contrary, asserting the free and sovereign Portugal that all patriots long for. The necessary choice is to reject this programme that puts us on a path to retrogression, surrendering the right to sovereign development geared toward national interests and toward ensuring dignified living conditions for our people.

A choice must be made about whether to keep alive a cabinet and policies that seek big capital's domination over Portugal's economy and life (as the President of the Republic and all those who want to perpetuate right-wing policies want), or on the contrary, enact policies whose key goals are raising workers' and people's living standards, and asserting their rights. The latter require patriotic and left-wing policies and a cabinet to implement them. To achieve this, the cabinet must be urgently dismissed, and there has to be an unwavering commitment to reject the Aggression Pact and to reinstate the rights and return the incomes that have been that have been stolen in the last few years.

There is a choice to be made, between a cabinet and policies subordinate to “the markets” and to speculators – inebriated and emboldened by the praise they get from all those who view the cabinet's actions as an effective tool in plundering Portugal's resources – , or else policies that can uphold workers' and people's rights – demanding that the Portuguese State have control over its own economic and budgetary policies.

The crucial choice that confronts workers, all patriots, and the people, is that of freeing Portugal from this road to submission, and of asserting our inalienable right to have a developed, independent and sovereign Portugal. This choice involves rejecting current monetary policy and use of the single currency, because not only does it generate continual liquidation of productive activities and structures, it also serves as a blackmail tool that – backed by the expropriation of monetary sovereignty – is used to justify the current march toward economic collapse. Such a choice requires of course, at the current juncture, that the Aggression Pact be rejected. It involves pursuing the goal of making a break with European Union policies and guidelines on budgetary, monetary and economic policies that seek to perpetuate exploitation, retrogression, decline and dependence into the future beyond the assistance programmes and the Troika (with which they are associated).

The PCP Central Committee insists that the cabinet's dismissal cannot be be put off any longer, and that it is extremely important to call an early election, to put a stop to this march toward disaster that Portugal is being subjected to. And it reasserts that the solution to the nation's problems and the absolutely necessary change of direction, necessarily require that we reject the Aggression Pact and make a break with right-wing policies and with the European capitalist integration process.

The PCP alerts against the illusion of false solutions and fake alternatives. We call attention to the fact that only a patriotic and left-wing alternative can address Portugal's problems and the Portuguese people's aspirations.

At this juncture, when dismissing the cabinet and calling new elections are an important contribution toward stopping the current course of events, the PCP Central Committee reiterates that the single most decisive condition to bring about a break with right-wing policies lies in enlarging the torrent of those who demand that the Aggression Pact be rejected, and in increasingly isolating those who support and implement the “memorandum” signed with the IMF and the European Union.

The PCP Central Committee calls upon all political and social circles and forces, all patriots and democrats, all individuals who are honestly and determinedly engaged in rescuing Portugal from decline and dependence and in returning to Portugal and its working people what has been stolen from them, to, based on a set of key goals and directions, pool their efforts, knowledge and availability to implement another policy.

5. A National imperative – a patriotic and left-wing cabinet and policies

It is a national imperative to bring to life patriotic and left-wing policies with a cabinet to implement them. This is necessary, to break with the current march toward disaster and open up prospects to address Portugal's problems. These policies should, as the PCP's 19th Congress defined them, be capable of liberating Portugal from dependence and submission, recovering for Portugal what belongs to Portugal (its resources, its strategic economic branches and enterprises, its right to economic development and growth), give workers and people back their rights, salaries and incomes.

These policies should, although there may be differentiated stances on this, be based on six essential foundations:

- one, rejecting the Aggression Pact and renegotiating the debt (amount, interest rates, repayment terms and conditions), rejecting the illegitimate part of the debt, undertaking a negotiated or unilateral moratorium, reducing debt service to a level that is compatible with economic growth and with better living standards;

- two, supporting and increasing domestic production, recovering the financial sector and other strategic enterprises and sectors (essential to support the economy, increase public investment and foster domestic demand) back to State ownership;

- three, effective enhancement of salaries and pensions, with an explicit undertaking to return stolen salaries, incomes and rights, including social benefits;

- four, opting for a budgetary policy that opposes excessive spending and luxury spending, and is based on a fiscal component that raises taxes on big capital's dividends and profits, and relieves workers and small and medium businesses, while ensuring for the State the funds needed to function effectively and to make public investments;

- five, a policy of support for, and reinstatement of, public services – in particular those involving the State's social functions (health, education and social security) – enhancing their human and material resources as a key component in implementing people's rights and developing the nation;

- six, undertaking a sovereign policy and asserting the primacy of national interests in all relations with the European Union, diversifying Portugal's foreign economic and financial relations, and adopting measures to prepare the country to exit the Euro, as a result either of a decision by the Portuguese people or of developments in the European Union's crisis.

6. Portugal's future is in the hands of its workers and people.

1. To the serious economic crisis and the jeopardised national sovereignty, there has now been added a political and institutional crisis.

The President of the Republic – who is supposed to ensure that the institutions operate properly – is shirking his responsibilities, and has become an obstacle to these institutions' proper operation.

Today more than ever, it is the workers and the people that – through their struggle and the development of a broad-based mass movement – will in the end cause the cabinet's dismissal, obtain respect for the Constitution, and assert national interests so as to ensure Portugal's independent and sovereign development.

The PCP Central Committee highlights the broad-based and diverse process that has unfolded in recent months, prominent in which have been the strikes, stoppages and rallies, the CGTP-IN's [trade union confederation] campaign last February and March, the nationwide Day of Action on 2 March, the national demonstration of working youth on 27 March, the Walk Against Impoverishment organised by GCTP-IN that began on 6 April, covered the whole country and culminated in Lisbon on 13 April, the celebrations of the April Revolution's 39th anniversary that were very widely attended and exhibited great fighting spirit, and the great May Day events organised by GCTP-IN.

In following up on these past struggles, it is necessary to broaden and intensify the struggles of Portugal's workers and people, for the solution of their problems, for the implementation of their yearnings, and for a Portugal with a future.

These are struggles for the demands of the working class and of all working people, of anti-monopoly classes and strata, of the Portuguese people. These are struggles for pay rises, including a raise in the national minimum salary, struggles against bosses taking advantage of the changed Labour Laws to lower remunerations, to not pay for overtime work and work on holidays and weekly rest days, struggles to protect established working hours, struggles to uphold rights and for better living and working conditions, struggles for effective collective bargaining rights.

These are struggles of small and medium-scale farmers such as the one organised by the CNA [National Agriculture Confederation] on 17 April last, struggles of secondary and higher education students, struggles of small and medium business owners, struggles of communities to protect their freguesias [smallest units of local government, many of which were recently abolished], their Local Governments and their public services, struggles of tenants against the new Rentals Law, struggles of users' committees to support public water services and to oppose new road toll charges, struggles of pensioners.

The PCP Central Committee highlights the importance of ongoing actions, in particular the stoppages, strikes, rallies and street agitation scheduled for 30 May, against the bosses' attempt to take advantage of the Cabinet's decision to try to impose forced and unpaid work on four holidays per year (of which 30 May is the first such holiday). This is a massive day of action to demand the right to keep holidays.

The PCP Central Committee calls upon everyone to participate in the great rally/demonstration called by CGTP-IN for 25 May next in Lisbon, next to the Presidency of the Republic, with the slogan “Against exploitation and impoverishment: Cabinet Out!”

2. It is high time to put a stop to this march toward social disaster and national abdication. It is high time to call upon the determination, the courage, the reason, the strength of those who do not want their country shackled to the interests of international capitalism's centres, of those who do not accept a policy of treason and sellout of national interests that means a future of poverty and impoverishment for Portugal's people.

The PCP calls upon all workers stripped of their salaries and rights, upon the the Portuguese people shackled to a future of impoverishment, upon those social organisations and forces that are resisting and defending those they represent, upon the non-monopoly strata driven to ruin by these policies, upon the youth whose only future prospect is to have to leave their country, upon all patriots who do not accept to have their country turned into a protectorate, upon all democrats for whom the April values are the beacon needed to embark on another path – Let your voices be heard, Rise up in protest against exploitation, impoverishment, injustice and national decline, Multiply in your struggles to dismiss the cabinet, for fresh elections, for alternative, patriotic and left-wing policies in keeping with the April values.

7. Intensify participation, strengthen the organisation

1. The PCP Central Committee highlights and salutes the great participation of Party members at all levels in implementing the 19th Congress guidelines – providing responses, taking initiatives, materialising the PCP's incomparable role in serving the workers, the people and the nation.

The PCP Central Committee highlights the particularly demanding circumstances that are being placed upon leadership work, ranking members, and the operation of party bodies – in responding to a situation that requires developing the mass struggle, in strengthening unitary mass organisations, in the extra work involved in unitary political work, in enhancing the political work of the party itself with its own specific content, in preparing for the local government elections next Autumn, and in the necessary party-strengthening to support all the other work.

3. In this respect, the Central Committee puts forward some immediate tasks, as part of the 19th Congress resolution's implementation:

- Stepping up political work and implementing the ongoing semester-long campaign “For alternative patriotic and left-wing policies” until June, as part of the overall struggle to reject the Aggression Pact and make a break with right-wing policies. This campaign is geared toward extending among the Portuguese people the belief that policies alternative to right-wing policies are not just necessary but also possible, that the PCP is a bearer of those patriotic and left-wing policies, that this possibility is all the more achievable the greater the workers' struggle and the greater the PCP's strength and political, social and electoral influence is. This campaign encompasses debates on topics involving specific alternative policies: “The Euro and the debt”; “Producing more to owe less”; “Imbalances on the territory and in society – aspects of capitalist development” and “Abiding by the Constitution – ensuring Portugal's sovereign development”, in all of which the PCP can assert the patriotic and left-wing policies for which it stands;

- The upcoming local government elections next October are a highly important political battle, both locally and nationwide. It is highly important to strengthen the CDU, its position, its vote, its number of elected members. More CDU will mean a greater capability to solve local problems, coupled with the CDU's widely recognised hard work, honesty and competence. More CDU will mean a greater presence [in institutions], to uphold and represent the people's interests, rights and aspirations. But it will also mean giving more clout to the struggle for alternative, patriotic and left-wing policies, to clear the road toward a dignified life;

- Active preparation for the 37th “Avante!” [party newspaper] Festival on 6, 7 and 8 September next, completing all the tasks essential to its success, and in particular the wide publicisation and sale of EPs [3-day tickets];

- Continuing the programme to commemorate Álvaro Cunhal's birth centennial [1913-2005], which is having great appeal and impact, and where his life, thinking and struggle are put forward as an example that extends into the present and the future; prominent among the wide-ranging programme of activities are: the large exhibition that opened on 27 April and will run until 2 June in the Terreiro do Paço [Praça do Comércio in central Lisbon], the Congress on “Álvaro Cunhal, the communist project, Portugal and the World today” to be held on 26-27 October at Lisbon University Humanities School [Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa], as well as the intensive programme around Centennial day 10 November, in particular with a commemorative rally at the Campo Pequeno arena in Lisbon.

Party-strengthening work, with particular attention to: strengthening organisations and their work at workplaces, a key aspect and top priority for the Party's work throughout this year; holding party organisation assemblies, especially in grass-roots party organisations; assignment of responsibilities to members; structuring location-based organisations and enhancing their work; improving work among pensioners, particularly with the creation of pensioners' cells; recruiting and integrating new members; evaluating the key resources for work, fundraising, local headquarters facilities, propaganda tools and party press, and taking all necessary measures to ensure that they are available for Party work in the current situation.

3. At a time when Portugal is confronting a situation that is unprecedented since the fascist period [1926-1974] and aware of the demands of this moment, the PCP reasserts its undertaking before the workers and the people, its determination and its confidence in the struggle to defeat right-wing policies and open the road for a patriotic and left-wing alternative, an advanced democracy with the April values projecting into in Portugal's future, and with, on the horizon, a society free of exploitation and oppression, a socialist society.

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  • Central
  • Political Statements
  • Álvaro Cunhal
  • European Union
  • War

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