Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary

45th Anniversary of the liberation of the peoples of the former Portuguese colonies

45th Anniversary of the liberation of the peoples of the former Portuguese colonies

Please allow me to begin by valuing and thanking the presence of representatives of MPLA, PAICV, PAIGC and FRELIMO in this meeting promoted by the PCP commemorating the 45th anniversary of the gaining of independence by the African peoples of the Portuguese colonies.

For the PCP, it is a source of great satisfaction and joy to have you here with us in this simple act, but which we regard as full of political significance, since with it we remember a particularly remarkable event in the history of our parties and our peoples, which marks, alongside the conquest of independence by the peoples of Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe, which was achieved at the cost of heavy sacrifices, the alliance between our peoples in the fight against the common enemy, Portuguese fascism and colonialism.

An alliance that made inseparable the Portuguese Revolution of 25 April, which put an end to 48 years of fascist dictatorship in Portugal, and the liberation of African peoples from Portuguese colonial rule.

An alliance that we wish can continue today with relations of friendship and cooperation between democratic Portugal and independent African states, guided by the values of sovereignty, social progress and peace, where paternalistic prejudices and neo-colonialist purposes are definitively removed.

The PCP is celebrating the centenary of its founding on March 6, 1921 and when assessing the path covered, also marked by heavy sacrifices, the hardship of clandestinity and the violence of fascist repression, it is with pride that we can say that the PCP was the only party that, facing with its head high the infamous slander of “betrayal of the homeland”, was always in solidarity with the liberating struggle of the peoples of the Portuguese colonies, forging close relations of friendship and cooperation with African revolutionary liberation movements, relations that resisted great shifts and turns and lasted until today.

We are proud of the role played by the central organ of our Party, the “Avante!, the underground newspaper that until the April Revolution, without forgetting Rádio Portugal Livre, was practically the only voice to systematically denounce the crimes of colonialism, supporting the struggles for independence and demanding an end to the colonial wars.

We are proud of the risky actions promoted by the communist militants against the war, the underground propaganda, the struggles in the barracks, the unrest among the drafted troops, the operations of sabotage of arms for the colonial war carried out by the Acção Revolucionária Armada [Armed Revolutionary Action].

We are proud to have had on our side in the Democratic Opposition Movement, namely in MUD Juvenil, the revolutionaries who later became leaders of their national liberation movements and of the new independent States.

And we are particularly proud of our Party's principled position of condemning colonialism and recognising the right of peoples subject to Portuguese colonial rule to self-determination and independence, PCP's long-standing position that the V Congress in 1957 made particularly visible, with the report "On the Problem of the Colonies", presented by comrade Jaime Serra, and the then adopted declaration that underlined the right of the colonised African peoples to unconditional, immediate and complete independence-

A patriotic and internationalist party, deeply convinced that a people that oppresses other peoples cannot be free, the PCP always considered that its struggle against imperialist domination over Portugal was inseparable from the liquidation of Portuguese colonialism, since it considered the struggle of the peoples colonised by Portugal as an aid to the struggle of the Portuguese people. In the Programme adopted at the VI Congress held in 1965, the PCP inscribed as one of the eight fundamental objectives of the Democratic and National Revolution "to recognise and ensure the peoples of the Portuguese colonies the right to immediate independence". An objective that the April Revolution helped to achieve, having had to face the strong resistance and the terrorist opposition of the counter-revolutionary reaction and that implied, even with parties from the democratic field, a very hard fight, as witnessed particularly in relation to the proclamation of the independence of Angola, on November 11, 1975, a ceremony that the then Portuguese Government boycotted and in which only the PCP was represented.

It is sometimes asked how was it possible that the Portuguese colonial empire had had such longevity and was the last to disappear. Our answer is clear: this happened because, as Portugal was a colonising country, it was simultaneously a country colonised by imperialism. Without NATO's support for the fascist regime of Salazar and Caetano, without the self-serving connivance of the so-called “western democracies” and the armament with which they fuelled the criminal colonial wars, Portuguese fascism and colonialism would not have survived the impetuous liberating movement stimulated by the Victory over Nazi-fascism in World War II, whose 75th anniversary we celebrate this year.

45 years later, many events took place marking the evolution of the situation in our countries and in the world. Imperialism and the reactionary forces never accepted the defeats suffered with the Portuguese Revolution, with the conquest of independence by the peoples of the Portuguese colonies and the defeat of apartheid in Southern Africa, with the collapse of colonial empires. That is why, taking advantage of the great change in the correlation of forces at the international level that resulted from the disappearance of the Soviet Union, imperialism launched a violent exploitative and aggressive offensive against workers and peoples, which includes the attempt of imposition of neo-colonialist policies and recolonization in Africa, Latin America or Asia. To do so, it uses the most diverse instruments, ranging from the scourge of debt and the plundering by multinationals, to the support of the most reactionary and obscurantist forces and even the use of terrorist mercenary groups. Despite the important achievements and changes that took place, imperialism seeks by all means to remove from power the forces that led the struggle for the liberation of their peoples and to erase from memory the act of generosity and heroism of patriots like Amílcar Cabral, Agostinho Neto or Samora Machel.

We have just held the XXI Congress of the PCP. The situation we live in Portugal is very complex and demanding and the international situation very unstable, uncertain and dangerous. But we are convinced and determined regarding the decisions made and confident that the aspirations of the Portuguese workers and people, which are the reason of being of our Party, will end up by triumphing. Not even the extremely violent anti-communist campaign orchestrated under the pretext of our Congress frustrated its holding, impaired its decisions or influenced our spirits in the struggle. Without ignoring the obstacles and difficulties, we are confident in Portugal's democratic and socialist future.

Fighting for a patriotic and left-wing alternative that paves the way for an advanced democracy with the values of April in the future of Portugal - of which the struggle in defence of the sovereignty and independence of Portugal, against the external impositions of NATO, of the European Union and of imperialism in general, is an integral part - the PCP considers that, as in the past, the values of sovereignty, social progress, peace and cooperation continue to unite us. We therefore want to ask our friends from the MPLA, PAICV, PAIGC and FRELIMO present here to convey to the leaderships of your Parties the will of the PCP to continue with our traditional friendly relations, and to assure them of the solidarity of the Portuguese communists in the action and struggle that they fight for the prosperity of their people and the sovereignty and independence of their countries.

Long live the friendship between peoples!
Long live internationalist solidarity!