The Central Committee of the PCP, meeting on May 16, 2020, discussed and analysed the fundamental features, developments and dangers of the current situation in the context of the epidemic outbreak and set down guidelines for the intervention and strengthening of the Party and the struggle for the patriotic and left-wing alternative.
I - Capitalism displays its nature
The COVID-19 epidemic brought further to the fore the glaring inequalities and injustices on a worldwide scale, the consequences of privatisation, the dismantling or absence of public healthcare services in several capitalist countries, contrary to the sanitary response and criteria for valuing human life, based on its intrinsic value. The exploitative, oppressive, predatory and aggressive nature of capitalism and its deeply inhuman character was displayed in a brutal way.
The current pandemic has hastened and worsened a new economic crisis, already latent and under way - in the broader context of the structural crisis of capitalism -, giving it a wider and deeper dimension and increasing instability and uncertainty in the international situation.
Big capital is using the current situation to impose an even greater and faster concentration and centralisation of capital, at the cost of an increasingly violent exploitation and increased attacks on the rights, freedoms, democracy, sovereignty and independence of the States, while at the same time, in an ideological manoeuvre, it points out the "excesses of capitalism" and the "exaggerations of globalisation", thus seeking to evade its great responsibility for the serious problems and scourges that affect Humanity.
In the face of the onset of the crisis and the increase of contradictions, US imperialism, with its allies, dangerously increases its aggressive policy, aiming to safeguard its hegemonic dominance, contain the peoples' struggle, and counter positive trends that have been appearing in the complex process of rearrangement of forces at the international level.
The fact that the US, with the passive or active support of its allies, not only continues, but even intensifies, its criminal sanctions and economic blockades, creating difficulties or preventing measures to save lives and guarantee the health of millions of human beings, as well as interference and aggression against countries such as Syria, Iran, Yemen, Venezuela or Cuba, deserves the strongest repudiation and condemnation.
The campaign of hostility, confrontation, blackmail and economic war carried out by the US against China is particularly significant and serious, particularly exacerbated under the pretext of the COVID-19 epidemic, based on the fabrication and falsification of facts, with the aim not only of attacking that country, but also to conceal the shortcomings and lack of responses to the disease and the deterioration of the already difficult economic and social situation in the US.
There is a striking contrast between the attitude of the US and the great powers of the European Union, immersed in an "every man for himself" attitude, and the action of China, Cuba and other countries, whose attitude was guided by prompt cooperation and solidarity with dozens of countries affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The offensive of imperialism, if not contained, will lead to an even greater worsening of social inequalities, to the deepening of dependency and economic and political dominance and to the total subversion of important principles that govern international relations, set down in the United Nations Charter and International Law.
The situation created with the epidemic outbreak not only does not change the major trends that have characterised the evolution of the international situation, but it intensifies the class struggle. The economic and social impacts resulting from the epidemic will be more or less lasting, more or less serious, as long as the policies that are adopted are determined by the interests of big capital and imperialist powers or by the defence and implementation of the rights and aspirations of the workers and peoples.
When the 75th. Anniversary of the Victory over Nazi-Fascism is being celebrated, the operations of falsifying History, the promotion of reactionary, anti-communist and anti-democratic conceptions, which whitewash and rehabilitate fascism and seek to criminalise those who fought it, are particularly serious.
The PCP expresses its solidarity with the resistance and struggle of the workers and peoples who face the brutal exploitative and aggressive attack by imperialism all over the world. Resistance and struggle that continues, developing under the most diverse conditions, adopting different forms and pointing out different immediate goals, opening real possibilities for democratic, progressive and revolutionary advances.
The gravity and exceptional character of the current international situation demonstrates the enormous importance of deepening convergence in the action of democratic, progressive and revolutionary forces, strengthening and broadening the anti-imperialist front, to stop the violent attack by imperialism and pave the way for the construction of a new international order, of peace, sovereignty and social progress.
The international communist and revolutionary movement is faced with more and extraordinary demands, with a view to increasing resolute action, unity and cooperation so as to strengthen the struggle in defence of workers' rights, in defence of freedom and democracy, in defence of the sovereignty of peoples and the independence of States, in defence of peace and disarmament, and for the advancement of social change and the revolutionary overcoming of capitalism by socialism.
II - The European Union, an instrument at the service of the great powers and economic groups
Immersed in the crisis, and given the diverse consequences of the epidemic outbreak in each of the countries, the European Union reveals its class nature. Its attitude is guided by the absence of appropriate solutions to the dimension of the problems, prevailing, as always, the imposition of the determinations of the main powers and the interests of the large economic and financial groups, instead of the response and cooperation that was required.
Failing to meet the immediate funding needs to respond to the social situation and the relaunching of economic activity, the EU pushes countries that have seen their economy severely weakened - as a result of decades of the Euro, the Single Market and Common Policies - into a debt spiral, associated with the imposition of policies that attack rights, deteriorate living conditions, despise sovereignty.
In addition to temporarily keeping on hold some of the instruments of its neoliberal policy - such as the criteria of the Stability Pact or the conditioning of State aid - the measures announced not only do not guarantee the rights of the workers and peoples and the response to problems faced by countries like Portugal, but will continue to heighten social inequalities, asymmetries and relations of dependency between countries.
Concealing the unequal conditions of each country to respond to the impact of the outbreak on its economic and social situation, everything indicates that the announced recovery plan whatever form it takes, in its amounts and priorities, will correspond, in essence, to the interests of the great powers of the EU and big transnational capital, representing a subordination of the policies, instruments and financial means that would be necessary to ensure an effective convergence in economic and social progress.
Reality proves the need to reinforce and to converge the fight against the neoliberal, militaristic and federalist European Union, and for a Europe of cooperation between sovereign states equal in rights, of social progress and peace, for a Europe of workers and peoples.
III - The national situation in the context of the epidemic outbreak: developing the struggle, affirming the alternative
At the national level, the impact of the epidemic on economic and social life is undeniable. In addition to the necessary response, both in terms of public health prevention and in the medical field, there are added demands to face its consequences in terms of economic activity, drop in production and the social problems associated with them, swelled by the use of large capital, under the pretext of the epidemic, to increase exploitation, liquidate rights, ensure profits, concentrate and centralise capital. Without prejudice to the indispensable short-term responses that the gravity of the situation requires, the economic recovery and the guarantee of wages, pensions and other income of workers, as well as of small farmers and fishermen, micro and small entrepreneurs and other strata, there is a need of solutions that only a policy, freed from submission to the impositions of the European Union and the Euro and from commitments to monopoly capital, can guarantee.
In this context, the importance of an alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy, which includes economic development, social progress and the affirmation of national sovereignty as essential conditions and objectives for the future of Portugal, emerges with special acuity.
The impacts of the epidemic outbreak are compounded by structural problems and deficits accumulated by decades of right-wing policies carried out by successive PS, PSD and CDS governments, which privatised companies and strategic sectors, destroyed and degraded a large part of the national productive capacity, drastically reduced public investment, weakened essential public services, imposed low wages and job precariousness, promoted the exploitation of workers and increased external dependency.
Without underestimating the complexities that the current public health situation brings, the fact is that the government's response is marked by submission to the impositions of the European Union, by criteria and options of a right-wing policy.
The socio-economic reality of the country evidenced in the thousands of dismissals, with about a million workers with cuts in wages, in the loss of the livelihood of thousands of workers, many of them self-employed or in an informal situation, in the arbitrariness of working hours and conditions, in the liquidation of the activity of thousands of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and the ruin of small producers, in the conditioning of the productive activity and the flow of production, demands an answer that is not found in the government's options.
The Central Committee of the PCP draws attention to the deterioration of the economic and social situation, especially given the insistence on options and measures limited in their effects, when not contrary to the interests of the country. The contraction of foreign markets, the reduction of the domestic market, as a result of the fall in wages and income of a large part of the population, the yet undetermined destruction of an important part of the national productive fabric, associated with the limitations imposed by the European Union and assumed by the government, converge into a scenario of significant drop in GDP (whose size cannot yet be foreseen), into a significant worsening of the public debt, a deterioration of the social situation with the increase of poverty, a deepening of the country's external dependence.
Given the scale of the problems, it is not possible to respond to economic development without answering the fundamental questions that arise, namely: the risks of mass bankruptcy of tens of thousands of companies and the collapse of economic sectors and tiers; the significant drop in the purchasing power of the population and its social and economic impacts; the increase in prices of basic necessities; the problems and limitations in public services that hamper the response that would now be needed; the processes of even greater concentration and centralisation of capital, contrary to national interests. The main and most important condition for economic recovery is the defence of the economic fabric and the guarantee of the valorisation of wages, pensions and income of the workers and people.
The Central Committee of the PCP draws attention to the fact that the insistence on the options that have marked the right-wing policy, which is part of the purpose of returning to the policy of worsening exploitation and impoverishment that characterised the period of the SGPs and the Pact of Aggression of the troika, will make it difficult to combat the epidemic outbreak and worsen its economic, social and political consequences.
The transfer of public resources to monopoly capital is an expression of the prevailing class options. An example of this is the scandalous handing of over 850 million euros to Novo Banco and the speculative fund that owns it; syphoning of funds under the lay-off system for multinational economic groups (which have no qualms about using them for gathering assets or distribution of dividends among shareholders); exemption from payments by companies to Social Security affecting its financing; maintaining prerogatives for PPP holders. This appropriation of public resources is all the more unacceptable since it lives side by side with the dramatic situation of hundreds of thousands of workers, namely with precarious ties, or independent workers who issue “green” receipts, without a contractual relationship, and of micro and small entrepreneurs who find themselves totally or partially deprived, of their wages and income.
The Central Committee of the PCP salutes all workers who have assumed, even in situations of risk, the fight against the epidemic and the functioning of fundamental sectors for the country, confirming that the valorisation of work and workers is justified and necessary.
The Central Committee of the PCP also stresses important lessons that can be learned from the current situation and that cannot be ignored in the future: the importance of the role of workers and the centrality of work in society; the role of public services and, in particular, the National Health Service as the only instrument capable of safeguarding the right to healthcare; the contradiction of those who promote the weakening of public services and structures of the State and now demand and support themselves on these same structures and on public funds; the enhancement of the domestic market as an engine of economic development and growth; the importance of national production and the need for the country not to dispense with the objective of ensuring its food sovereignty or the production of medicines; the wrong options that make budgetary policy subject to EU impositions; the need for public control of strategic companies and sectors, such as TAP, which would be now destroyed if it depended on private groups; the need to have a public response, both for children and for the older population, not left dependent on other types of welfare or private structures; the problems that result from the absence of monetary and budgetary sovereignty, with the country being pushed again towards the blackmail of financial markets and the impositions and constraints of the EU.
In view of a political framework marked by the options of the PS government, contrary to national interests, as well as the harnessing by PSD, CDS and their most reactionary substitutes, Chega and Iniciativa Liberal to whitewash their position and boost anti-democratic values and conceptions, intensified the ideological offensive directed against the workers and the Portuguese people, aiming at their acceptance, in the present and for the future, of new and fiercer levels of exploitation, intending to oppose the "defence of the economy" against the rights of those who work, or the "defence of health" against the right to freedom.
The State of Emergency, imposed and extended through the initiative of the President of the Republic and with the support of PS, PSD, CDS, BE, PAN and Chega, being unnecessary and disproportionate in the fight of public health against the epidemic, proved to be a useful instrument for the capital.
Taking advantage of a very special situation - with millions of Portuguese in a situation of lockdown, exposed to a systematic barrage of messages, values and concepts, namely through the mainstream media (and with same level of expression in the so-called social networks), disseminating fear and alarmism, promoting individualism, resignation and conformism, whistle blowing , the criminalisation of the struggle and the segregation of strata of the population - the reactionary centres of big capital seek, using the situation created with the epidemic outbreak, to give new and significant steps in the attack on the democratic regime and the Constitution of the Republic.
The Central Committee of the PCP draws attention to those who, under the pretext of the epidemic outbreak and the great changes that the preventive measures have introduced in the daily lives of millions of Portuguese, seek to impose new levels of attack on workers' rights, the dilapidation of public resources through the hands of economic groups, of new limitations on democratic rights and freedoms, perverse changes in behaviours and social habits, advent of fascistic practices and concepts that, moreover, were promoted and whitewashed during this period.
The Central Committee of the PCP also stresses the manoeuvres and positions that are under way, contrary to the implementation of the policy that the country needs, and which aim to ensure the deepening of the right-wing policy and submission to the Euro and the impositions of the European Union. Manoeuvres which include the convergence between PS, PSD, CDS in structural matters and options, the role and intervention of the President of the Republic in promoting that same convergence, the whitewashing of right-wing politics and its players and the promotion of reactionary forces and values, the inclusion of media groups in these objectives and their dissemination. The articulated intervention of the circles of power of big capital in this direction, particularly targeting the PCP - the most decisive obstacle to their reactionary projects - and CGTP-IN, the great class-oriented trade union central of the workers, seeks to liquidate fundamental rights, freedoms and guarantees.
The Central Committee of the PCP registers and denounces the nature and intensity of the reactionary offensive against the Party, which, as history shows, is only the most visible face of a broader offensive. Resorting to the exacerbation of anti-communist prejudice, hate speech and spread of lies, articulated with the silencing of its initiative, the distortion of its message and the promotion of others, this offensive confirms that it is in the PCP that the decision centres of monopoly capital see the main and most coherent force of resistance to the anti-democratic projects that they are developing.
The offensive unleashed, reflecting the reluctance of some against the 25th. of April, namely against the holding of the Solemn Session that took place in the Assembly of the Republic, and the campaign conducted against the May Day actions called by CGTP-IN, besides the undisguised class hatred that went with it, seeks to instil a climate of fear and limitation of fundamental freedoms that favours the intensification of violations against workers, their wages and rights, and of course the right to work.
The Central Committee of the PCP stresses the importance of resistance and the struggle of the workers and populations, of the celebrations of the 25th. of April, namely the Solemn Session in the Assembly of the Republic, popular celebrations, with wide expression throughout the country, associated with the appeal to sing «Grândola, Vila Morena» and the National Anthem which had a strong support, and the day of struggle on May Day 2020, called by CGTP-IN, under the special conditions in which it took place, abiding the health protection measures. This day was one of the most significant in recent decades, affirming the collective rights of workers on the streets and making their voices heard, their protest and outrage, the demand to defend healthcare, rights, guarantee jobs, wages and public services against exploitation, for the valorisation of the workers, for a Portugal with a future. The celebrations of the 25th of April and the May Day struggle point the way. Facing and overcoming anti-democratic blackmail, ensuring the necessary health prevention and sanitary protection measures, it is necessary, for the present and for the future, to use the instruments of intervention and struggle that the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic enshrines.
With the National Health Service's irreplaceable role in responding to the epidemic outbreak having been proven and recognized, the economic groups in the disease business and their political representatives undertake a gigantic operation to attack it and jeopardise its future, and under the pretext of the fight by the NHS against the epidemic outbreak, hand new valences, functions and public resources to private groups.
Portugal has to have the SNS strengthened. Not only to meet the necessary response that the moment demands in terms of prevention, mitigation and clinical response to the current epidemic outbreak, but also and above all, to fully correspond to guaranteeing the Portuguese people's right to healthcare in all other fields and dimensions. It is for this purpose that the PCP tabled an emergency plan to bolster the investment in the NHS, the number of its professionals and technical resources.
The Central Committee of the PCP alerts the Portuguese workers and people, democrats and patriots to the dangers that arise from reactionary projects and their anti-democratic agenda. Projects for which the worsening of the social and economic situation, resulting from the current epidemic and its reactionary instrumentalization, leave an open ground and whose materialisation will be as greater as the government's lack of a determined response to exploitation, impoverishment, inequalities and injustices. The situation in the country demands, along with the denunciation of the PS government's options, a determined intervention to combat the whitewashing of the PSD, CDS and their substitute parties, to confront and combat the projects and objectives of the reactionary forces.
The Central Committee of the PCP calls for the struggle for an alternative policy that effectively responds to the interests of the vast majority of the population. This is the main demand placed on workers, anti-monopoly strata, youth, pensioners, women, all democrats and patriots who aspire to a better life.
In order to combat the impacts of the epidemic outbreak and guarantee the country's future, Portugal needs an alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy that ensures employment, defends wages and the rights of the workers and people, strengthens public services, promotes national production and ensures investment, needed for a path of sovereign development.
A struggle, an alternative and a path that entails: the country's liberation from submission to the Euro in conjunction with the renegotiation of the public debt; the valorisation of work and workers; the defence and promotion of national production and the productive sectors; public control of banking and the recovery of the basic and strategic sectors of the economy to the public sector; the guarantee of public administration and services to serve the people and the country; a policy of fiscal justice and fight the privileges of big capital; the defence of the democratic regime and compliance with the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, the enhancement of rights, freedoms and guarantees, the fight against corruption and the implementation of an independent and accessible justice for all. These are core features of an alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy, increasingly urgent and necessary, capable of providing solutions to national problems and responding to the interests of the workers, the people and the country.
IV - Ensure the intervention and strengthening of the Party
The Central Committee of the PCP salutes the organisations and militants of the Party and the JCP for their contribution to the initiative and response in a demanding framework, added to the epidemic outbreak with its consequences. In the face of a situation that implied preventive and protective measures, bringing new demands, the Party did not allow itself to be blackmailed or conditioned, took the initiative and action in an emergency context of party action, given the problems created to the workers, the people and the country due to the health situation, due to the preventive measures adopted and the worsening of the exploitation, the attack on labour and social rights and the attempt to limit political rights. The Party is being put to the test once again and fulfils its role, showing that the workers and the people, whatever the conditions, can count on the Portuguese Communist Party.
The Central Committee of the PCP highlights the rally of the 99th anniversary that started the celebrations of the Party's centennial, the stimulating contribution given in the celebrations of the 46th anniversary of the 25th of April and in the materialisation of the important 2020 May Day struggle, the political intervention with workers and populations, institutional action, propaganda work, namely in electronic communications, the role of Avante!, the measures taken to guarantee the functioning of the Party and its strengthening, and the beginning of the preparation of the XXI Congress.
In the scope of the strengthening of the Party, we must highlight the success of the action of 5,000 contacts with the workers, translated into the holding of 5074 contacts, with 1350 new militants, guaranteeing the expansion and strengthening of the organisation in companies and workplaces and new potentialities of its materialisation, and also, in the willingness of many workers to think about joining the Party and to support the party activity.
The Portuguese Communist Party reaffirms in the current situation its commitment to the workers and the people, its initiative for the convergence of democrats and patriots, its intervention for a patriotic and left-wing alternative, based on democracy, sovereignty, development and social progress, with a policy and a government capable of preventing the country's foundering, responding to serious existing problems and guaranteeing solutions for a Portugal with a future.
The current situation requires the affirmation of the objectives and the role of the PCP. Regardless of the necessary preventive and protective measures, this is a time of emergency for the Party's action inherent to its communist identity. A time that requires analysis and monitoring of the situation, the corresponding political initiative, the implementation of the priority guidelines defined for the strengthening of the Party, the adoption of exceptional measures that guarantee party functioning, the preparation of the Avante! Festival in the current circumstances, namely in terms of health protection measures, the implementation of the guidelines defined by the Central Committee in the context of the Party's centennial celebrations and the progress in the preparation of the XXI Congress.
The Central Committee of the PCP, following the celebrations of the 25th of April and the May Day struggle, stresses the need to develop resistance and the workers' struggle, in the fight against exploitation, in defence of their interests and rights, responding to immediate problems, by valuing work and workers, by defending and strengthening public services, by affirming an alternative policy.
The Central Committee of the PCP values the intense and diversified intervention of the last few months, and considers of the utmost importance the boosting of the Party's political initiative and intervention, centred on the problems of workers, of the various social strata and sectors affected in their rights and living conditions, and in the affirmation of the patriotic and left-wing alternative. It points out, among others, the following initiatives: a day of contact and information with workers beginning on May 21, as part of the campaign “Valuing work and workers. No to exploitation!”; a set of actions and contacts aimed at micro, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs and self-employed workers starting in June; an action to defend and valorise the National Health Service, including, on May 28, a day to disseminate the proposed Emergency Programme for the NHS; the development of a set of initiatives under the motto “Not a single right less, confidence and struggle for a better life” that begins with the holding of a rally, on June 7, in Lisbon.
The Central Committee of the PCP, in terms of the functioning and strengthening of the Party, defines as priorities: the implementation of measures related to issues of leadership, cadres and financial sustainability; ensuring the functioning of the Party, regularization of the functioning of the leadership bodies and other bodies; contact with Party members; the monitoring of the situation, the problems of the workers and populations, the development of the struggle and the strengthening of unitary mass organisations and institutional action; the strengthening of the Party's organisation and intervention in companies and workplaces, following the action of 5,000 contacts, with the evaluation and attributing responsibilities for party cells to 100 comrades and the creation of 100 new company, workplace or sector cells by March 2021, associated with other aspects of this priority work; boosting recruitment; dissemination of the Avante!; propaganda work, including through electronic means; the financial independence of the Party with the promotion of the National Funding Campaign “The future has a Party” integrated in the celebrations of the Party's centennial and with the payment/collection of dues, ensuring the updating of dues; evaluating and holding comrades responsible for regular tasks and monitoring them.
The Central Committee underlines the importance of preparing the XXI Congress to be held under the motto “Organise, Struggle, Advance - Democracy and Socialism”, ensuring the debate in the bodies and organisations based on the topics adopted by the Central Committee and the implementation of the programming of the first preparatory phase fostering the maximum contribution from the Party members.
The PCP, with its history, its action, its ideal and project, proves, as life is once again demonstrating, as a necessary, indispensable and irreplaceable Party. The strengthening of the PCP is essential for the workers, the people and the Portuguese homeland, for development, peace, cooperation, the international cause of the emancipation of workers and peoples with Socialism and Communism on the horizon.