Statement by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary of the PCP

70th Anniversary of the trial of Alvaro Cunhal

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Today, May 5th, we mark a particularly striking moment in the life and history of the Portuguese Communist Party. Seventy years ago, during his trial in a fascist Court, Alvaro Cunhal delivered a memorable intervention where, with remarkable lucidity and courage, he proceeded to judge and condemn the fascist regime.

There are many and significant moments in the life and struggle of the Portuguese Communist Party that we will mark and celebrate during the centenary commemoration of PCP's heroic existence.

There are many events that mark the courageous struggle of a party built with sacrifice, the suffering and self-denial of many of its best cadres. A Party of women and men who were not, are not intimidated.

One hundred years of a Party that has known the horrors and tragedy of war and fascism. That promoted the greats struggles of workers and assumed as its own the struggles of oppressed peoples throughout the world. That has assumed all the great causes and all the struggles against exploitation, oppression and inequalities. That has fought, as no other, on front line for the political, labor, social and cultural rights of our people. That was in the emergence and realization of the April Revolution, and in the front line of its achievements and in its defense. That was and continues to act to advance the wheel of history in the direction of progress, freedom, democracy and socialism.

One hundred years of a Party that is proud to have had Alvaro Cunhal as its Secretary-General, a unique personality and complete revolutionary personality that we recall today in this example of firmness and dignity in Tribunal da Boa Hora, facing the fascist judges, passing from accused to accuser, and which is a testimony to the personality of a man in struggle – a struggle fought under the severe and violent conditions of fascist prison.

Alvaro Cunhal had been imprisoned for 14 months, incommunicado, and had been subjected to brutal torture. Locked in a cell with no sunlight and a 24-hour watchlight, with no pencil or paper, he memorized his long intervention and, from the courtroom, placed the Salazar regime on the defense bench, in one of the most significant acts of resistance to the fascist regime and confidence in the future of our people's liberation struggle.

In his long intervention, Álvaro Cunhal pronounced an accusatory libel against the regime by laying bare its terrorist and oppressive nature, its impact on the lives of the people and Country; announcing the "basic conditions for a feasible Democratic Republic in Portugal"; and justified and defended the project, political guidelines and the lines of action of the Portuguese Communist Party.

By taking apart, point-by-point, the regime's lies and reactionary propaganda, demonstrating the patriotic and internationalist character of the communists' policies, the value of national independence fascist regime jeopardized, by submitting the country to the dominion of "imperialist foreigners", the nefarious power of the monopolies over the national economy and its consequences on the difficult living conditions of the people, as a result of this dominion and the policy of the regime that served the monopolies. He reasoned and affirmed the impossibility that the fascist regime could guarantee the independence of the country, nor ensure the people's well-being.

Alvaro Cunhal would end his courageous intervention before the fascist court by stating: "We will be tried and certainly condemned. To our joy, we need only know that our people think that if someone should be tried and convicted for acting against the interests of the people and the country, for wanting to drag Portugal into a criminal war, for using unconstitutional and illegal means, for employing terrorism, that someone is not us Communists. Our people think that if someone should be tried for such crimes, then the fascists should sit on the defense bench, the current rulers of the nation and their leader, Salazar."

Álvaro Cunhal put into practice what, in theory, should be the posture against an odious regime: make every moment and every arena, a moment of resistance and struggle.

PCP was then living a great moment in its history. A moment initiated with the reorganization of 40/41 and supplemented with the 3rd and 4th Congress, with men of Alvaro Cunhal's revolutionary temper. A strengthening moment that deeply transformed the Party. A time of great struggle of our people, where PCP became a great national party and became not only necessary, but indispensable and irreplaceable in Portuguese society.

Necessary and indispensable yesterday, necessary and irreplaceable in today's different reality, to ensure the defense of the interests of the workers, our people and the country.

In today's reality, marked by a complex international situation, the overexploitation of labor and the deepening of capitalism's structural crisis, and a national situation with serious structural problems, reflected in the country's underdevelopment, glaring social and regional inequalities. Problems which are inseparable from years of right-wing politics and integration in the European Union and that the recent epidemic has aggravated. An outbreak that is serving as a pretext for national and international big capital to intensify their attack on rights, freedom and democracy, aggravate exploitation and accelerate the concentration and centralization of capital. In Portugal, there are already thousands of laid off workers, workers with wage cuts and in arrears. Thousands of micro, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs face the prospect of liquidation of their activities.

If the protracted problems that Portugal has long faced demanded another policy, a patriotic and left-wing policy, that demand has become even more imperative today to answer the health problems, the necessary valuing of work and workers, the defense of national production, the promotion of economic and social development, and to ensure public services at the service of the people and the country.

We live a difficult situation, with immense dangers. This is a moment to state that the fight is not, nor can be quarantined!

One teaching Álvaro Cunhal bequeathed us, with his word and his example, is that whatever the circumstances at any moment, the struggle is always necessary – and always worth it, because the struggle and the strength resulting from the struggle will ultimately determine the evolution of events.

We are a Party with a century-old history that honors us and that we want to continue to honor. A Party that never turned its face to the struggle. A Party whose militants have demonstrated unparalleled self-denial.

A Party not only of resistance but advancement, bearer of a hope that does not wait and that, tempered in the concrete struggle, makes dreams a reality, always, always with the workers and the people, carrying their transformative and emancipatory project!