Resolution PCP Central Committee

Álvaro Cunhal Birth centennial commemoration – Life, thinking and struggle: an example that shines into the present and the future

2013 marks the 100th anniversary of Álvaro Cunhal's birth. Commemorating his centennial is a necessary homage, to be paid by the Portuguese Communist Party, by democrats, patriots, the working class, working people, the youth, intellectuals, men and women of science, the arts and culture, the people of Portugal, to one of the most consistent fighters for freedom, democracy, socialism and communism.

Álvaro Cunhal was, in the 20th century and the transition into the 21st, Portugal's most outstanding personality in the struggle for the values of social and human liberation. His influence extended abroad, as one of the best-known and prestigious leaders in the international communist movement.

1. Álvaro Cunhal's life, thinking and struggle justify and necessitate a significant tribute. We will celebrate his birth centennial by highlighting his example, as part of the collective endeavour that he joined and of the cause to which he dedicated his life.

In celebrating Álvaro Cunhal's birth centennial, we are highlighting the valuable legacy of his thinking – a set of analyses and actions whose contents have been and are being borne out by events, and becoming increasingly topical in the present and for the future.

In celebrating this centennial we don't just highlight how valuable Álvaro Cunhal's legacy of work and contributions are. We also seek to better understand and grasp his methods, and the criteria used in his analyses, which exhibit a remarkable understanding of communists' theoretical and ideological foundations – Marxism-Leninism, its development, and its creative application to the actual conditions of society in Portugal and the world.

In celebrating Álvaro Cunhal's centennial, we highlight the significance of his life as a man and as a revolutionary, and its meaning, not just as an example worthy of highlighting but also in terms of the attitude, the stance and the political goals for the future that Portugal and the world need in this second decade of the 21st century.

2. Álvaro Cunhal was a member, leader and General Secretary of the Portuguese Communist Party. His life was entirely dedicated to the struggle for freedom, democracy and socialism.

Early in life he took sides in terms of class: He stood for the rights and liberation of working people. He exhibited a rare dose of tenacity, dedication and courage. He rejected benefits or privileges for himself, and dedicated his life to the interests of the exploited and the oppressed. He withstood horrendous trials, lived and worked underground, underwent long years in jail, suffering brutal torture and solitary confinement.

His work was undeniably decisive in conceiving, building and consolidating the Portuguese Communist Party as a revolutionary and Marxist-Leninist party. Toward this process, he made highly valuable contributions, such as the concept of the great party collective, and the definition and systematisation of the basic features that define the identity of a communist party.

His role in drawing up the Party's strategy and tactics was considerable and is widely acknowledged. One example is the definition of the [1965] Programme for the “National and Democratic Revolution” whose correctness was fully confirmed by the April [1974] Revolution and its far-reaching revolutionary changes. Also worthy of note are his contributions in analysing and establishing the line of conduct and participation throughout the whole revolutionary process, and in defence of the April gains, and also in drawing up the [1988] Programme for “Portugal, an Advanced Democracy on the Threshold of the 21st Century”.

He made a wide range of contributions toward strengthening the international communist movement, the struggle against imperialism, and to further the workers' and peoples' liberation process, particularly in the former Portuguese colonies, as well as in developing the struggle for peace.

As part and parcel of his direct participation in the PCP's leadership, organisation and work, he made a valuable and decisive contribution to theory, through thousands of political contributions, speeches, and through far-reaching and highly significant written works, whose political and ideological impact was considerable, and whose understanding and study continues to be highly topical to this day.

Side by side with his revolutionary political work, Álvaro Cunhal also had a keen interest in all spheres of life. Particularly prominent were his artistic creations, including works of literature – novel and short stories –, fine arts – drawings and paintings –, as well as his theoretical works on aesthetics and cultural creation, involving art, artists and society.

3. Álvaro Cunhal was born in Coimbra on 10 November 1913. Throughout more than seven decades of struggle, in the various periods of his life, he always worked with consistency and determination.

He began his revolutionary work as a student in Lisbon University School of Law, where he participated in the student union movement, and in 1934 was elected as the students' representative in the University Senate. He was an active member of the Portuguese Communist Youth Federation (FJCP), and was elected as its General Secretary in 1935. He was a member of the Portuguese Communist Party since 1931, having entered the Party's underground structure in 1935. During this period, he was arrested twice, in 1937 and 1940.

He participated in the 1940-41 PCP reorganisation, and was a member of the Secretariat from 1942 to 1949. During this period he made a decisive contribution to the PCP's work and in defining the Party's identity as a party with deep roots in the working class and among the working people, with a strong influence among intellectuals and the youth – as a major national party with a leading role in the anti-fascist struggle.

He was again arrested in 1949, and spent the whole of the 1950s in fascist jails. When he was taken to trial, he used the fascist courtroom to deliver a hard-hitting indictment of the fascist dictatorship and defence of the Party's policies. He was sentenced, and spent 11 consecutive years in fascist jails, of which 8 in completely solitary confinement. After being transferred from Lisbon Penitentiary to the fortress-prison at Peniche, he escaped from there on 3 January 1960, together with a group of other prominent Communist Party members.

From the beginning of the 1960s until the April 1974 Revolution was an extremely intense period in his life. He returned as a member to the Central Committee Secretariat and in March 1961 was elected PCP General Secretary. He contributed decisively toward correcting a right-wing deviation and opposing right-wing opportunism as well as bourgeois radicalist sectarian ultra-left tendencies. He made a decisive contribution toward analysing Portugal's situation, defining tasks and providing leadership for the Party's political work, creating the conditions for the April Revolution and influencing its development.

The period following the fascist dictatorship's overthrow on 25 April 1974 was the first time, after over forty years of underground struggle and jail confinement, that he was able to undertake political work in the freedom made possible by the April Revolution. He was Minister Without Portfolio in the first four Provisional Governments, was elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1975, and to the Assembly of the Republic [parliament] in all elections between 1975 and 1987. He was a member of the Council of State from 1982 to 1992. The hallmarks of his contribution during the revolutionary process's development, and later to defend the revolutionary gains from the counter-revolutionary onslaught, were in assessing and fostering the role of struggles: struggles of the working class, the working people and the masses of the people.

At the PCP's 14th Congress in 1992 – as part of a renovation and a new leadership structure – he left the post of General Secretary and was elected by the Central Committee as President of the PCP National Council. In December 1996 the 15th PCP Congress abolished the National Council and its presidency, and he remained as a PCP Central Committee member.

Until the end of his life, he continued to be actively involved in political work, in culture and the arts, and in confidently asserting communist goals.
He died at age 92 on 13 June 2005. His funeral on 15 June was attended by hundreds of thousands of people. It constituted an extraordinary tribute from the communists, democrats, patriots, workers and the people, to whom Álvaro Cunhal dedicated his whole life. His funeral was itself a demonstration, asserting determination, engagement and confidence in continuity of the struggle for the cause that he embraced.

4. The Portuguese Communist Party Central Committee hereby decides that the Álvaro Cunhal Centennial commemorations will bear the slogan “Life, thinking and struggle: an example that shines into the present and the future”. These commemorations will begin this year and extend throughout the whole of 2013, particularly on and around 10 November, his birthday centennial.

The Central Committee has decided that the Centennial commemorations shall be based on Álvaro Cunhal's identification with the Party and its goals, toward whose definition and implementation he made a decisive contribution – upholding the interests of the working class, the working people, the people and the nation, upholding the communist ideal and goals. They shall highlight the course of his life, his works, activity and example, as part and parcel of the cause for which he fought. They shall address Álvaro Cunhal's thinking and legacy as an element of prime importance for the present time. In the Álvaro Cunhal Centennial commemorations, the man, the communist, the intellectual and the artist are all one.

The Central Committee appeals to extending the centennial commemorations beyond the party, into Portuguese society – ensuring the participation and support of democrats and patriots with no party affiliation – as a broad-based homage to Álvaro Cunhal.

The commemorations shall be publicised as much as possible at all levels: in the workers' and trade-union movement, in schools, universities, cultural circles and structures, local governments, community recreational clubs, and others.

The commemorations shall be based on general guidelines, that should be present in all their different instances, be they organised by Party organisations of all sizes, or events organised with a broader participation of other people and entities, or events that may be promoted by specific institutions and entities.

5. The programme of commemorations shall involve events and actions to encompass the multiple areas of Álvaro Cunhal's work and contributions.
Among other events, the following will be prominent: a major exhibition in Lisbon in the first half of 2013; seminars, debates and other events on topics and areas relating to Álvaro Cunhal's work and contributions; special treatment in “Avante!” [newspaper], “O Militante” [organisational magazine] and the Website; production of pamphlets, books and documentaries; major prominence at the 2013 “Avante!” Festival; publicisation, readings and study groups of Álvaro Cunhal's works; youth involvement and participation, including specific youth events; commemorations that branch out internationally.

The commemorations' dimension, scope and content shall reflect this centennial's political, ideological and cultural significance for the struggles of Portugal's workers and people.

For the commemorations to have the necessary dimension and repercussion, Party and JCP members should start on the preparation and implementation of their programme immediately, preparing events and guidelines tailored to the demands posed by the times we are facing, and coordinated with the Party's general work.

6. Álvaro Cunhal's legacy, example, thinking, work and contribution to the revolutionary struggle are part of his Party's heritage, part of the political and cultural heritage of Portugal's workers and people, part of the heritage of the international cause of liberation of workers and peoples. A heritage of life, thinking and struggle, shining into the present and the future, in the service of workers, people and country, for democracy, socialism and communism.

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