Speech by Carlos Carvalhas, General Secretary of the PCP, XVII Congress of the Portuguese Communist Party

Opening the 17th Party Congress - Speech by Carlos Carvalhas

Dear comrades, dear friends
Esteemed national and foreign guests

I would like to thank and greet you for your solidary presence, and as well fraternally greet all the comrade delegates, and through you the generous collective of the Party, which is made up by several generations of communists who created, rooted and strengthened this great Party, the Portuguese Communist Party.

I am sure of expressing the feelings of the delegates and the Party collective in, from this rostrum, warmly greeting comrade Álvaro Cunhal, who for well-known reasons cannot be here with us, as well as comrade delegates Dias Lourenço, Jaime Serra, Joaquim Gomes, José Vitoriano, Sérgio Vilarigues, and through them, all the comrades, and I stress all the comrades, women and men, who emerging from the clandestine struggle, are luckily with us, carrying on the common struggle.

Comrades,

We have come to this congress after a wide process of preparation, which involved the participation of many thousands of Party members who, in an atmosphere of serenity and analysis, but also of vibrancy and openness, brought to the debate their written and oral opinions and proposals.

We did so without ceasing to respond to the political situation. And we did so in a process and a methodology of involvement and participation of militants because, unlike other Parties, our Congress with all its importance and significance is a point of arrival and of final conclusions of the broad debate and also a moment of accountability and assessment of the activity of the Party’s various organisations and areas of work..

A process where the analysis of the political evolution and the Party’s activities can be carried out without the embarrassment of having to hide political stands and attitudes taken in a recent past and without the need to erase a track of incongruities to justify future actions.

A process where the definition of the political guidelines results from a profound analysis of the situation and the contribution given by the thoughts and opinion of the Party collective, polarised in the search for the best answers by the Party to the situation and political reality and the resulting tasks and not merely based on personal disputes or wars between “personalities”.

A process participated by the Party members who are equal in rights and duties, and the resultant is the sum of the contribution of each member, with the diversity of their knowledge, life experience or education.

A process where the construction of leadership solutions results from a wide collective assessment of the proposals, observations, consultation of organisms and organisations and a thoughtful evaluation of each cadre and not a choice dictated by the will of a single leader or a Party boss, in accordance with his circle of friendships, ambitions or personal interests.

The delegates to our Congress, the media and the whole country can be sure of one thing: there are certain facts that, however many times the world goes round, we are not willing to change nor copy from other Parties. And therefore, as in the previous sixteen Party Congresses, so too in this 17th Party Congress, we shall not have any film showing the life of a PCP leader from his childhood and we shall not première any new anthem with hosannas and references to any PCP leader.

Comrades:

The preparatory debate confirmed from the first stage, which begun in February, a real desire to contribute towards a collective analysis. The many opinions, analyses and reflections presented in the first phase of the preparatory debate included in the Draft Political Resolution which was submitted for discussion and the written proposed amendments which resulted, show the interest and the involvement of thousands of Party militants. Even on the part of those comrades who for different reasons did not have the chance, or could not read the documents or who, for several reasons, did not write texts for changes, the truth is that we had their participation, through the opinions they expressed and the personal experience they brought, an important contribution to the debate, and elements of enrichment of the analyses and proposals that the leadership of the Party presented for discussion.

The debate which mobilised all the organisations, was carried out from North to South of the continent, in the Autonomous Regions and among our emigrants, centred on collective discussion in meetings and plenary assemblies, and was compounded by individual contribution presented through the pages of Avante or the PCP’s Internet site. A debate which in the second phase is also reflected in the over 1 100 proposed amendments to the Draft Political Resolution and the changes to the Party Constitution. A debate which also expressed the effort made to take as far as possible the democratic participation and intervention of PCP members, as shown by the over 1200 meetings and initiatives held to debate the Theses and in hundreds of elective assemblies within the framework of the preparation of the Congress, to which we must add others deriving from the normal activity of our organisations and their response to the government policy.

By this we are not saying that we have an idea of perfection and of self-satisfaction, that we should not examine the ways of involving more and more militants, of making more accessible and shorter the project of the Theses put up for discussion, of fighting labels and classification instead of the debate of ideas, or any deviation of obeisance, authoritarianism or of imposition of ideas, which sometimes still appear. Also the issue of the deepening of our internal democracy and control of the exercise of power, at all levels, must always be present. But it is evident that this has nothing to do with those who place themselves outside the Party’s rules of functioning, rules which they approved, and who try through faits accomplis or through the media to submit the majority to their positions which were not accepted. It should be remembered that our Congress is not confined to a mere electoral process and even less an electoral process guided by the media. It is also worth mentioning that the delegates to the 17th Congress, who were democratically elected by the Party members, with full freedom of opinion and vote, will exercise the sovereignty of decision given to them by the present Party Constitution and by the Regulations which are adopted.

That is why I want to greet all Party members, and all those who gave their contribution to the preparation of this Congress, however modest it may have been; all those who defended their points of view, be they in agreement or critical of the Draft Political Resolution under debate or of the activity of the leadership; all those who legitimately presented to us their concerns or disagreement on such or such issue or solution; all those who fully exercised their rights and responsibilities as Party members.

Since we announced the date and the preparation of the Congress we also knew that we would have an intensification of the lines of intoxication, which from without to within the Party always seek to disturb and divide and who, with the announcement that in this Congress I would be leaving the office of Secretary-General, would be seeking to re-launch intrigue, speculations and the labelling of PCP leaders. In truth, since we announced the preparation of a Congress we have had chartered analysts and especially those who have been prominent in their anti-communism expressing great concern with the strengthening of the PCP, giving much advice and indicating the radiant courses that the PCP should follow. Such care, such concern, especially coming from those quarters, cannot but deserve our heartfelt thanks due to the openness with which they revealed their intentions. Evidently, we are not talking about any “campaign” against the PCP and even less about any famous “unintentional cabbala” from the no less famous Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. We are talking, as you know, about people who are very worried about PCP’s health!…

Others, in different ways, have repeated the old and false “dilemma” of the Party’s announced demise! If the PCP renovates itself it will become equal to others. And because between a copy and the original, the original is always preferable, our fate would be to disappear. If the PCP continues “diehard” unadapted to change, outside “modernity” as they say, its fate would also be to disappear, perhaps in a slower way, they add…

Copying one another, with wonderful originality, those who say so do not wish to appear as basic anti-communists. But what they are saying without realising or stating it, is that whatever the PCP does, it has no place in Portuguese society. It is doomed to die, a quick death or a slow death! With the defeats of socialism in the East what they wish to impart, without stating it, is the old theses that there is no place for Communist parties. They are not necessary. And what underlies these statements is the concept, also unstated, that there is no alternative to capitalism. It is the concept of capitalism as the end of history. Since for them there is no alternative to capitalism, the PCP is not necessary. To “improve” capitalism, to serve finance capital and the ruling classes, when the right is eroded, they have the PS (Socialist Party) and social-democracy, champions of privatisations and of neo-liberalism, and who do not question, on the contrary, the privatisation of basic and strategic companies. To them, rotativism is enough. Their concept of the “left” ends here: to fight in words for a well-behaved capitalism, more “humane” with the workers and the people resigned to the concentration of wealth, to domination and to exploitation.

They do not wish to understand nor see, that for the PCP renewal is not ideological capitulation or adaptation and submission to the neo-liberal offensive and aggressiveness of imperialism. For the PCP “renewal” is a demand for those who want to change society: renewal as opposed to routine and worn-out solutions, renewal in methods, in analyses, in answers to new problems, renewal of cadre and leaders.

However much they exchange their wishes for the truth, this Party, which struggles for social change, which does not surrender to capitalism, which fights for the fulfilment of the more pressing popular aspirations and immediate demands, continues to include in its struggle, Socialism as the future of Portugal; this Party which stands up to big capital and the policy of concentration of wealth, which fights against the right-wing policies, be they carried out by the Parties of the right, or by the PS, is a necessary and indispensable Party for the working-class, the workers and the country and, with strong and solid popular roots.

The “dilemma” that they should make clear is the dilemma of alternative and alternance. It is the dilemma of Social Democracy that wears the cloak of the Left in words when it is in opposition and copies the Right and practices neo-liberalism when it comes to power. That is the reason why fundamentally alternance has been just a change of faces, that is, rotativism without alternatives.

There will be no alternative without the PCP. What the sophists of the “dilemma” do not say is that the PCP is the great obstacle to the policy of the Right, the force that in the social and political struggles fights with firmness, coherence and determination against the central block of interests. What these prophets of anti-communism, resigned or adapted to the system, do not say is that the PCP is the great political force mobilising wills, energies and struggle. What these people, who are settled down to rotativism and podium verbalism do not say is that no party can replace the PCP and its role in the mass struggle to defend the interests of the workers, the people and the country. What the purveyors of resistance to change do not say is that the PCP, unlike others, does not restrict itself to the institutional struggle, nor does it run after the so-called modernity or what “can be in the media” or bursts open with flares. For the PCP, what counts is the solution of the concrete problems of the populations and the people and that which is modern and serves the people is not the increasing subordination of political power to economic power and namely to foreign economic power, but the defence of national sovereignty, the defence of “national decision centers” and the deepening of democracy in all its aspects. Whatever the theologians and the “Bin Ladens” of “Single Thought” who proclaim the supposed eternity and superiority of capitalism may say, what is modern and serves the people is to have the courage to fight for the emancipation of the workers. To fight for the construction of new societies freed from the exploitation of man by man.

What is modern and has a future, is not the appropriation of resources and riches, of the world or national, by a privileged minority; it is not the domination by the interests of big capital over the peoples and countries through preventive wars, neo-colonial processes and unequal exchange at the cost of tragic and untold suffering, humiliations and offences to the dignity of human beings; but rather the courage to proclaim Man, his rights, his aspirations, his dignity and his happiness as the central axis of the organisation of societies and the definition of their policies.

II
Another world is possible

Comrades

The 17th. PCP Congress, as the Draft Political Resolution says, takes place in the context of a violent, aggressive and all-out offensive by imperialism, which after the September 11 attacks, saw a new and dangerous development.

Today we know more clearly that September 11 was the ideal excuse for the Bush administration and its hawks to establish the doctrine of a preventive war, invade and occupy Iraq and, with remarkable cynicism, take advantage of the psychological trauma in US society to increase the military budget, carry on internal repression and restriction of freedoms through the adoption of the “Patriot Act” and other laws, and create an atmosphere of general suspicion.

Today we know more clearly that before September 11 the Bush administration planned to occupy Iraq, to set its hands on oil and control that important strategic area.

Today we also know more clearly that the occupation war was waged under a lie, as both the arguments used were false. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or any Saddam links with Bin Laden.

But it was based upon lies and forged proof and reports to sell the war to public opinion that US imperialism and its vassals, among which we have the PSD/CDS-PP government, invaded and occupied Iraq after intense bombardments, the death of thousands of civilians and the destruction of the country’s infrastructures.

The instillation of fear, hypocrisy and lies was the basis for the declaration of war and is the basis of imperialism’s official doctrine for new aggressions.

The lie of forged reports, the lie of Colin Powell’s ridiculous proof presented to the Security Council, classified by Hans Blix as a gross falsification, the lie that Saddam was killing prisoners in cold blood as sworn by that great figure of the renovated and modern left, called Tony Blair. Even the heroic liberation of GI Jessica Lynch was a despicable enactment.

And as was also witnessed, soon after the invasion and occupation, contrary to what was predicted by the cynical Donald Rumsfeld, there were no mass defections from the Iraqi army, or popular uprisings against Saddam, and the coalition forces were not greeted with flowers and applause. It was not long before they was greeted with bombs and confined to army barracks. Since Bush declared the war over, there have been endless attacks, bombings, mass destructions.

Physical and sexual abuse, sadistic treatments inflicted upon several prisoners in Abu Ghraib, and also in Guantanamo and in the secret prisons of Afghanistan expose the US hypocrisy about building democracy in Iraq, based upon human rights. Founded on bombs, as seen in Fallujah, on a policy of wholesale burning and destruction, with the silence of the so-called international community, which only woke up to the horror scenes after seeing the horrific images of a wounded and unarmed Iraqi being shot!

Contrary to what Bush said, there is neither stability, nor democracy in Iraq, nor stabilization of the oil market – the price of a barrel reached huge figures - nor is the world better and safer, as is recognized in many political quarters.

The empire with all arrogance pursues the war in Iraq, threatens other States, increases interferences and the blockade against Cuba, multiplies interferences against Venezuela and gave Sharon a free rein to continue building the wall in the West Bank and to continue the massacres against Palestinians. And now, the US and Israel, which no longer even have the excuse of the historic leader of the Palestinian people, Yasser Arafat, to whom we pay our tribute, cynically say they will re-launch the “Road Map”!

From the platform of our 17th Congress, we greet the Palestinian people and demand the end of the occupation of Palestine, the settlements, the wall of apartheid and the re-launching of the dialogue, that will materialize a just solution with a Palestinian State and the living together in peace and security of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

From the platform of our 17th Congress, we also greet all the peoples in struggle, all the peoples who are victims of imperialism and express to them our active solidarity.

Also based upon a continued lie and the shabby excuse of the phony elections in January, the Santana/Portas government has decided to extend the mission of the GNR (National Republican Guard) in Iraq. As we can see, there is no shortage of money to extend and strengthen the military missions in Iraq, in Afghanistan or in Kosovo!

With the defeat of the construction of socialism in the East, imperialism, namely the hegemonic power, the USA, were left with a freer hand. Their dream is planetary domination. But they do not have their hands completely free. They face the fightback, the resistance, the intervention and the struggle of the progressive forces, the workers and the peoples. The huge coordinated demonstrations for peace around the world, against the war, for example, constituted a new factor and showed the potential for resistance and struggle.

The “anti-globalisation movement” against neo-liberalism and war, in spite of its diversified social and political character, has shown, objectively, an anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist line.

There is an ever greater consciousness among the masses that neo-liberal globalisation, that is to say, the capitalist globalisation, dooms millions of human beings to extreme poverty, the polarization of wealth as never seen before, the destruction or submission of the productive and industrial apparatuses of countries with weaker economies, carrying out a “planetary plunder”. With the freedom of circulation of capital, big business gained an element of domination, of liquidation of the productive activities in the countries with weaker economies and of blackmail through the delocalisation of investments, with the luxury of putting countries at odds with each other and choosing the one that give them better conditions and subsidies. At the same time it imposes an increasingly unequal exchange and uses the stranglehold of foreign debt.

In this plunder, imperialism also has the international institutions with their ideological machine, their network of influence and pressure, with their own means and actions and which continue to spread the “Single thought” based upon the dogmas and theology of neo-liberalism, based upon the “ten commandments” of the Washington consensus and the sanctification of the markets: The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The ideology of neo-liberalism is also spread by G8- the club of the rich and the Davos Forum – reproduced and parroted in the universities, in the media and by economic commentators. These institutions are powerful instruments of ideological domination, of submission and strangulation of the economies. Someone has said that MacNamara killed more human beings at the head of the World Bank than as US Defence Secretary, referring to the massacres in Vietnam.

The G8, and namely the US, dominate the international financial institutions that build the institutional framework of neo-liberal globalisation, having the WTO as a fundamental element.

They all keep hammering on the tripod: stabilisation, liberalisation, privatisations. They all recite the “ten commandments of the Washington consensus” with fiscal discipline, liberalisation of trade, privatisations, de-regulation and, the last commandment, property rights… That is, they all defend the overthrow of the different obstacles so that the big fish can eat the little fish and maximum guarantees for the “big fish” to go back home, fatter and plumper!

With the demolition of technical and tax customs barriers and the free circulation of capital, competitiveness is raised to a “gospel”. To survive competition, technological, industrial and commercial wars, one has to lower the cost of labour, and use everything – schools, unions, infrastructures, taxes - to make the companies competitive on a world level.

The evangelists of “Single Thought”- some renown economists, formatted in the US, England, Japan continue to encode the so-called natural laws of modern economy …

As is clear, all this is wrapped up with the proclaimed aim of promoting development and fighting hunger around the world.

But as life shows, today there are citizens with assets and fortune larger than the GDP of several countries. The rich were never so rich and the poor so poor, in spite of the huge scientific and technological progress, and the possible creation of goods and services that could solve the most acute problems of Humanity: a small percentage of the expense on weapons or a small percentage on the speculative financial operations, or a small drop of that which evades taxes in the tax havens or a tiny fraction of the fabulous profits from drugs and the criminal economy would solve these problems. So many seminars, so many congresses, so many meetings of the UN, governments, churches, so many pious wishes. If we wish to safeguard human rights and solve the problems of hunger and underdevelopment, let us attack where necessary. Witness the colossal gap in the information society where 19% of the world’s population represents 91% of internet users, which is joined by the fantastic inequality in income – 25% of the population of the richest countries holds 85% of the world’s income. And witness, for example, the refusal and boycott on the information society organised by the International Communications Union, compared by some to the Rio Earth Summit on the Environment, where the rich countries and the big companies refused to finance a “Solidarity Fund” to expand the new information technologies in the lesser developed countries. And as to a multilateral, transparent and democratic management of the Internet within a specialized United Nations agency, this proposal was rejected by the US with the excuse that only the private sector guarantees the Internet as an instrument of freedom!

Precisely on the other hand, neo-liberal capitalist globalisation is being sold as the salvation of Humanity and since its results don’t show that, the neo-liberal theologians keep repeating their dogmas, saying that we need more, silencing and persecuting all heretics, organising messianic forums, with their circle of chemically pure intellectuals, like the “trilaterals”, with the faithful promoted to great sages and scholars by universities belonging to the great money lords …

But as is clear, they cannot explain the growing increase in inequalities, the democratic and social regressions, the millions of human beings doomed to a pitiful existence side by side with overwhelming opulence, they cannot explain why free trade is one sided, with the US being the most protectionist country in the world, nor why there is social and environmental dumping, nor what are the rights of the millions of unemployed and civilian dead and crippled by Bush’s preventive war, nor the “doomed of the Earth” by the capitalist system.

And it is also clear that instead of fighting terrorism, they promote it. You do not fight terrorism without fighting its most important factors, hunger, deepening inequalities, underdevelopment, social injustice, exploitation and domination.

Also you do not fight terrorism with terrorist governments who cynically carry out State terrorism, who coldly carry out selective assassinations as the Sharon government has done…

An American intellectual recently said that those who voted Bush, voted for more terrorism without knowing it. We believe this is true, without forgetting that in the wonderful American democracy only 55% of the voters exercised their voting rights …

Comrades

Capitalism did not free itself from its crises, or its derangements, or the antagonistic contradiction between capital and labour, or the policies of exploitation, oppression, domination, violence and war.

As stated in the Draft Political Resolution, the struggle is the way. In the present circumstances of great uncertainty and instability, the progressive and revolutionary changes that an alternative to the present state of affairs demands, will not be born out of blueprints and preconceived measures, or of voluntarisms, but from the mass struggles, the struggles of different progressive and revolutionary forces in a converging or complementing way, out of the dialectics of the revolutionary struggle at the national, regional and international level.

III
To defeat the PSD/CDS-PP government

Comrades and friends:

With differences that cannot be denied, but mostly accessory, with different degrees and reasoning, these past four years were marked in the most essential and fundamental issues, by the continuation of the policies of the right, whether with the PS government or later with those of the PSD/CDS-PP. Concentration of wealth, privatisations, increasing submission of political power to economic power, a tightening of the belt by the workers and the pensioners, regression and impoverishment of the different components of democracy.

As stated in the Draft Political Resolution, the electoral success of the parties of the right is indissociably linked to, essentially, the policy followed by the PS governments.

In the framework of great disappointment and discontent with the policy of the PS government and a particularly violent offensive against our Party, the PSD developed a populist campaign, of promises and more promises and this gave them a victory.

It was the promise of lowering taxes, improvement of wages, combat against unemployment, combat against fraud and tax evasion, it was the promise that, with the PSD in government, Portugal would grow two percentage points above the European average, speeding the convergence of our economy.

Then we had the talk of stripped naked bankruptcy. A blind cut in public expenditure. Recession. Unemployment. Closure and delocalisation of companies. The shady deals of privatisations. Increasing discarding of the State’s responsibility for its social functions. Scandals of several ministers, which led to the dismissals of Isaltino Morais, Pedro Lynce and Martins da Cruz.

The policy of the PSD/PP government is responsible for the recession of the country and its deepening and continuation. The Portuguese economy, instead of converging, moves away from the European average. The social situation is worsening.

The red card shown to the government’s policy in the European Parliament elections, the crisis that followed the abandonment of government by Durão Barroso, the disastrous policy that was being followed demanded giving the people their voice.

What followed is well-known. Going against a deep feeling expressed in Portuguese society, in the name of a pseudo stability, it was decided to appoint Santana Lopes Prime Minister and swear in a government of involution in continuity.

And so we have “stability”, in the increase in unemployment, the worsening of difficulties for thousands upon thousands of families, in the placing of teachers, the nomination of boys for the jobs, the policy of clientele favouring, the budgetary policy, the continuous closure of companies and delocalisations. .

And so we have “stability” in the dismissals of secretaries of state and the government reshuffle, which in Santana Lopes’s words is not a reshuffle, but just a restructure, a re-“arrangement”.

And so we have “stability”, in the situation of the security of populations, especially in urban areas where there is an increase in crime and in violent and group criminality, with the ashamed silence of Paulo Portas. And so we have “stability”, in the deepening of inequalities, the worsening of the social situation, economic dependence, the sell-out of public companies, increasing control of the media and disfigurement of the democratic regime!

The cases of the dismissal of the Director of Diário de Notícias [a Lisbon daily], the Information Direction of RTP [public television], the direct and indirect threats by government members to information bodies and the High Commission for Media, the anxiety with the media advisers and advisors for the Prime Minister’s image, who are being paid their weight in gold, the luminous information central, now vetoed by the President of the Republic, are some of the examples of the Santana Lopes government in political marketing and Media control.

The great task of Minister Morais Sarmento, both in the government of Durão Barroso and in that of Santana Lopes, has in fact been the control of the State media, and the establishment through favours, of “gentlemen’s agreements” with the bosses of the main private media organs, the practical materialization, of a communications network that promotes the image of the chief and of the government. And this, in a framework where four or five groups already hold the vast majority of the information media. It is an unacceptable situation..

That is why we say, that it is very important to support and give stimulus to the struggle of the journalists and other information professionals, against labour precariousness and the affirmation of their rights of autonomy and impartiality, the struggle for a pluralist information linked to public interest as well as the struggle for legislative solutions that may courageously confront the growing issue of concentration of ownership.

There was never any austerity for some

Comrades,

During the recent PSD Congress the Prime Minister stated that the times of austerity were over!

For some, that is, for the PSD clientele, for those who receive State favours; for the Prime Minister’s and Paulo Portas’ advisers; for the boys and girls of the famous jobs; for the deluxe retired and for finance capital, for the 200 billionaires that Fortune magazine publishes every year, austerity never ended, as we have said before, for the simple reason that it never began. On the contrary, these were times of plenty and of accumulation …

Austerity also did not end with the magnificent lowering of the income tax for the workers decided by Bagão Felix. A lowering which will only be felt in 2006, which is merely by chance an election year.

At the end of last year, Durão Barroso also said to the country that “the worse was over”, after repeating this for a whole year. And we saw what that meant! Santana Lopes replaced “the worse is over” with the “end of austerity”, that is, a change in words but the same trick.

For the Portuguese whose income and living conditions were strongly affected by the escalation in prices well above the official rates of inflation, which were above those stated in the Budget, the worst is not over, and the so-called austerity will not end in 2004. It will also not end for the 500.000 unemployed, nor the thousands of pensioners, nor the workers of Sorefame, or of Cometna and other companies, nor for the small and medium-sized farmers from the Douro, nor for the workers in general. The worst is yet to come, as their rights and privileges hardly won, will be sliced by the intolerable and backward labour code.

The end of austerity is not solved with political marketing, or with populist speeches, but with facts, measures and concrete proposals. In the Assembly of the Republic, Santana Lopes was forced to deny what he said before and affirm that in fact austerity was not over for many who live with difficulties and, impudently, added that it was necessary to have an optimistic speech. To this government everything is solved at the level of speech and propaganda.

And so, Mr. Prime Minister, if there is nothing we can do about the nightmares that fill your dreams, as this belongs to another department, we suggest that you keep the nightmares to yourself instead of throwing them at the Portuguese [people]. Please do not confess them publicly, as you did during your party’s Congress when you said that you dream about being ten years in government… Not less than [former PSD Prime Minister] Cavaco!

As we are nearing Christmas, do not frighten the country and please place a little gift in the stockings of the Portuguese. Resign, go on a holiday and calm the Portuguese and allow them to have a say.

If you don’t do this, we shall do all we can to prevent you from reaching August and go take a rest as quickly as possible. For our part we do not accept, unlike others, to carry on with Paulo Portas and the great advertising agency “Santana Lopes – Portas, Ltd” till 2006, with continuous misdeeds and the work of destroying the productive apparatus and social and democratic regression.

And that is why we tell you, you can count on our firm and determined struggle. The struggle goes on!

The so-called European Constitution

Comrades,

The so-called European Constitution is an unacceptable text. Christened as a Constitution, without any constitutive process, drawn up by “giscardian liturgy” of opacity, of secrecy, of fait accompli and the faithful so-called Europeists, this new treaty is a complete deceit, consecrating the neo-liberal model and its ideological postulates.

It “constitutionalizes” the primacy of “free competition” over any other norm; the subordination of public services to community rules, affirms that free trade corresponds to “common interests” forbidding, as could not be otherwise, any restriction on circulation of capital and asserts the “independence” of the ECB, an un-elected body, not subject to control and which has vast powers.

It is the consecration and enshrinement of the market, the generalization of competition with an attack on public services, stimulus for the increase in working hours and work flexibilization.

That is also a significant thrust of federalism, that is, the federalisation of small states tutored through a process of decision/vote dominated by the Directorate of great powers.

Calling an European Constitution to what is only a treaty, is not naive. It aims at imposing a federalist culture and through fait accompli make acceptable the prevalence of the norms of the said Constitution over the legislation and Constitutions of member States.

The prevailing of the size of the population over equality among sovereign states enables the domination of big powers.

It is also unacceptable to launch through this Treaty the institutional bases for the militarisation of the European Union, with a de facto subordination of the European Union to NATO!

It is also unacceptable to have advanced with the enlargement with practically the same Budget, which is frontally against the materialisation of the principle of economic and social cohesion.

The 2005 Budget bill was once again less than 1% of the GNP and to make matters worse with the gradual change in budgetary priorities for Justice, security policies, foreign and common security policy in detriment of priorities with jobs, social support and cooperation with less developed countries

Unacceptable was the constitutional amendment to introduce the submission of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic to the European Constitution and Community Law, precisely during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the April Revolution, which gave back sovereignty to the Portuguese people!

Once again, as was the case of the laws on political parties and on privatisations, the PS played its usual role: it began the process of amendment, accepted the supremacy of the so-called European Constitution over the Portuguese Constitution, and all this without the treaty, called Constitution, having even been adopted.

It is necessary to continue to expose and oppose these processes.

As it is not possible to have a referendum on international treaties – as stated in the constitution agreed between the PSD and PS with PCP’s continued opposition – the question approved, once again based upon an agreement between the PS, PSD and CDS-PP, although presently questioned by the Government, is confusing, long, not placing essential issues. If it goes ahead, it will show that we are having a facade of a referendum, to try to legitimise a so-called Constitutional Treaty and the submission of the Portuguese Constitution. So far, no one has explained the consequences of this referendum in case the “No” vote wins. The trick of fitting three questions in one is worthy of Mr. De La Palisse. Look at the question on whether you agree with the Charter of Fundamental Rights: it is a parody. The Constitution of the [Portuguese] Republic enshrines a set of rights, freedoms and guaranties superior to the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and so there is nothing new, nor anything that merits any opposition, but shows that we are seeing a farce which seeks a “Yes” at all costs. Such a referendum will have no legitimacy.

Our position on all this and on the Treaty, as well, is clear and coherent: rejection and opposition. Ours is a position of struggle and break with neo-liberalism, federalism and militarism. And this is the real issue. Do the Portuguese men and women agree with a new treaty which they want to consecrate as a Constitution, trampling national Constitutions, asserting an economic organisation of a neo-liberal type, a federalist course and its militarisation as the European pillar of NATO?

As stated in the project of the political resolution, and in view of the successive ongoing stages of the construction of the European Union, the PCP according to some, should, against its goals and convictions, surrender to the inevitability of these processes, that is, condemn itself to a policy of “realism” as the art of the possible, a political practice reduced to opportunistic pragmatism, without any values or principles, to a resignated choice of the lesser evil.

The PCP does not adapt nor submit itself and reaffirms that a different Europe is necessary!

A Europe as a free union of sovereign states, equal in rights, engaged in economic convergence and social progress, the promotion of peace and an exemplary cooperation with all the peoples of the world.

A Europe that favours development based upon a sustainable relationship between nature and society, defends the interests of the workers, respects the cultural identity, the sovereignty and independence of Portugal.

The counter-reforms of the right

Comrades,

Continuing the policy of the right, this Government wishes to hasten the privatisation of important public services. It speaks about reforms, but what it materialises are counter-reforms at the service of great interests. In relation to the public system of social security, the Framework Law adopted by the PSD/CDS-PP majority and its later regulation is a hard blow against social protection and aims to satisfy the appetites of the private insurance companies, with a ceiling [on deductions] and the privatisation of its most profitable parts.

And once again in this Budget the Government does not comply with the law which compels the transfer of two percentage points from the contribution of the workers to the Fund of Financial Stabilisation, continuing to de-capitalise Social Security, in order to impose more grievous measures at a later date.

In healthcare, the Government also wishes to materialise the old PSD slogan: “Whoever wants healthcare, should pay for it!”, now under the form of “you use it, you pay it”. A principle to “benefit the poor” according to Santana Lopes.

As in transport, Dr. Santana Lopes wants social justice through the Income Tax declaration which only portrays truthfully the income of the workers. He wants to reproduce in healthcare and in transport, as it already is in education, the fiscal injustice of such a system. We can already see the bankers, the executives with an orange card [orange is the colour of PSD party] and the great money lords queuing for the waiting list and out-patient appointments of the National Health Service or running for a public means of transport to travel packed like sardines at a snail’s speed!

But the truth is that the rise in NHS payments especially affects the needier citizens, not only in its costs, but also in the number of medical acts that have to be paid for. Also for many users the medicine bill increased due to the application of reference prices.

With the 2005 State Budget the patients will have to pay the so-called public-private partnerships to build ten new hospitals. A wonderful and guaranteed business for the economic groups… there must be a reason for the Mello Group to defend and claim the immediate privatisation of half of the NHS.

At the same time that the privatisation guideline increases and a new and advantageous contract has been signed with the Mello Group for the Amadora-Sintra Hospital, the PSD/CDS-PP Government worsened the problem with waiting lists for surgery, in spite of having promised their end, by applying a program (PECLEC) which resulted in the creation of a new waiting list.

A serious problem in healthcare is also the case of clandestine abortion. This [Government] majority hypocritically continues preventing a solution through legislative means, continuing to bet on the criminalisation and stigmatisation of women who have to resort to voluntary interruption of pregnancy. This position is also accompanied by drawbacks on matters of sexual education and family planning.

The increasing number of abortion cases taken to court are, in themselves, an exposure of the hypocritical and backward positions of the majority. It is not only prison that is humiliating for the women. Even going to Court and the prying of their private lives is an unacceptable public humiliation.

Comrades:

As you know, reaffirming clearly that a real answer to the problem of clandestine abortion inevitably requires the adoption of a new law of de-penalisation of abortion and reaffirming that we shall pursue this combat to which, for 22 years, we have been dedicatedly committed, our party has presented in the Assembly of the Republic a bill, which through a legal moratorium, will suspend investigations, lawsuits and trials of women accused of practicing clandestine abortion.

This initiative of ours had a considerable impact, gathered wide support and it seems to have created new frictions amongst the Government majority.

But today and on this subject we want to speak about something which no one has yet said and which has to do with the profound meaning that our initiative holds as to our being in public life and intervening in Portuguese society.

In truth, comrades, this proposal aims to put an end or suspend the investigations, the lawsuits and the trials of women who resort to abortion, although we know that these investigations, lawsuits and trials are presently situations of great discomfort, distress and political isolation of the right and are presently situations of great use by the media, and puts before Portuguese society a shocking aspect of this scourge.

Well, what this legislative initiative means deeply, is that we are so often accused of coldness and political calculism and so often accused of having a policy of “the worse, the better”, we were able to place before any immediate advantage or political tactics, the rights and the dignity of all women who are humiliated and have their intimacy pried open by these investigations, lawsuits and trials which, on top, serve as stimulus to new delations and a factor of worsening the conditions of the practice of clandestine abortion.

We believe that this decision and option of ours testifies to the vision and humanistic values that guide our party and we are convinced that, if this project were approved – which regretfully it will not be, because once again, the PSD declared itself a prisoner of the extreme reactionarism of CDS-PP – it would be possible to continue combatively the struggle for the indispensable de-penalisation of abortion, as an elementary demand of justice and humanity and an essential imperative of the values of civilisation.

Comrades:

Also to benefit the “poor little people”, in the Government’s saying, a legislative permission was presented at the Assembly of the Republic to change the law on house rents.

The law is said to dynamise the rent market and recover for the tenant the degraded urban housing.

But what we see is that this law will lead to the increase and quickening of evictions, the handover of downtown areas and historical centres of towns to real-estate speculation and the social instability of tenants and shopkeepers with leases.

The negotiated rent as is being shown is the institutionalisation of the social instability of tenants and shopkeepers with leases.

Moreover the Government could never explain why the short-term rent contracts introduced in 1985 did not dynamise the market nor prevent the degradation of buildings. Also the existence of 544.000 empty houses proves that it is not by making precarious or liberalising the rent market that you can attain those objectives.

The PCP supports and will continue to support those who fight against the injustice of this law.

Comrades:

In education, in spite of the speeches regarding its importance for development and competitiveness, these last years have been marked by an increasing elitisation in the access to university education and the degradation of public education.

When you look at the worsening social situation of so many families, at the eventful “reforms” in education and when you look and see the chaos and confusion of this year’s school opening, we also understand why Portugal is a country with the highest rate of school drop outs and school failures, affecting 25% of students in secondary schooling.

For the PCP, education is a decisive strategic sector for the country’s development and to deepen democracy. The State should guarantee the constitutional right to education, ensuring a free, public and quality education for all. The defence of public education, education linked to the life and professional employment are essential issues in defining an education policy. In the struggle for valorised education, in the struggle to defend free and quality public schools, in the struggle for professional employment and jobs it is fair to point out the struggle of the youth and the committed struggle of the JCP, whom we warmly greet from this rostrum.

In terms of the country’s economic development it is also necessary to tackle the increasing scientific and technological deficit. We have insufficient public investment, the lowest private investment by companies, in research and development in the European Union and an overall low level of integration and knowledge of economic activity.

But if we recognise the maximum importance that education, professional training and scientific and technological development have in the development of a country, we also demystify the idea that these by themselves determine sustained development.

If there is de-industrialisation, increasing subcontracting and economic dependence and the hand-over of basic and strategic companies to foreigners, investments in education will mainly benefit the transnationals and foreign companies and not the national economy. Without dealing with the issue of the so-called “brain drain”, there is highly qualified labour which is forced to emigrate or exercise its activity well beneath its aptitude profile. It is a colossal waste of resources.

A different policy is necessary and urgent

Comrades:

A different policy is necessary. A policy that may give due value to labour and make good use of natural and human resources. The right-wing policy has also systematically violated the economic setup envisaged in the Constitution of the [Portuguese] Republic. Privatizations and liberalizations – in companies like CP [railways], EDP [electricity], CTT [postal services], Portugal Telecom - which inherently replace the goals of a public service with the single goal of private profit, falsely checked by phony regulatory entities, have translated into processes of restructuring that have profound and negative implications for the country and for the communities, worsening regional asymmetries.

The policy which is necessary, and which the PCP defends, implies a break with right-wing policies, with neoliberalism and the concentration of wealth; recognizing the importance of the productive apparatus; a productive profile with more and better added value; the central nature and the importance of the Portuguese people’s labour as a core economic issue; countering the main deficits – in technology, energy and agro-foodstuffs; the defense of our sovereignty and national interest in the European Union. It requires courage and far-sightedness, to define a real strategy for the country’s development, and not just riding the waves that may come our way as a result of the winds from Brussels! Portugal cannot continue to destroy and debase its productive apparatus, whilst handing over what little of it remains to the transnational corporations. In the past few years, whole sectors and areas have been destroyed, handed over or strongly jeopardized: in the basic and specialized (pharmaceutical sector) chemical industries; the steelworks and various kinds of metallurgic industries, in heavy engineering. And agriculture and fisheries too, have been restricted by EU policies, even to the point of preventing the necessary increases in production. And our textile, clothing and shoe industry is threatened, both by the WTO-dictated liberalization (beginning in 2005) and by the rise in the Euro!

The Portuguese economy must walk with its two legs: ensuring a productive activity and services that make good use of national resources and creating a development strategy that is based, at the same time, on increasing exports, expanding the domestic market and productivity. “Saving the economy” does not mean patching up, nor promoting ideological diversion at the service of concentrating and centralizing capital – neoliberalism wrapped up in information technology; it does not lie in the famous new economy or in the no less famous Rhineland capitalism, or in an “ethical” regulation of the market within a so-called “comunion economy”. That means a Communion just for the few!

The offensive by big business and the governments that serve it, to destroy rights and achievements has been translated into a social, but also an economic and democratic regression. Not living up to their promises, not solving the problems, with a succession of corruption scandals, with the crisis in the legal system - all this has created favourable conditions to discredit politics, politicians, and political parties – as if they were all the same.

Everyone recognizes that the legal system is in a profound crisis. It is very slow, expensive and detached from the citizens. The various governments’ right-wing policies are responsible for the deterioration in the criminal justice system and for serious harm to the credibility of the Courts, the judges and the Criminal police, as well as for the events surrounding the «Casa Pia» (paedophile ring) and «Golden Whistle» (football corruption) cases, which have not helped to boost its prestige. At the same time, we have witnessed a major offensive against workers’ rights.

The Labour Code is a tool that serves to slice away hard-won rights and achievements and whose goal is to weaken and create difficulties fot the workers’ organization and struggle.

Unemployment, social inequalities, family debts, the reduction in real wages and low pensions feed social difficulties and poverty, which is a social scourge that is spreading across the Portuguese society. Women are particularly affected by poverty, unemployment and precarious jobs. We wish to greet here, at this 17th Congress, the Portuguese women and their struggle for employment, for higher wages, for their rights, for an equal role. In particular, we wish to greet the MDM [Women’s Democratic Movement], the National Women’s Committee of [the Trade Union Central] CGTP and the Organization of Communist Women [OMC] in their struggle for women’s rights.

This situation, and in particular the framework of inequality, is further worsened by the often irregular situation of many thousands of immigrants, who then become the victims of a ferocious exploitation.

As we have always said, the quota system strongly defended by [the leader of the far-right junior party in the ruling coalition, CDS/PP] Paulo Portas and the right, is increasing the ranks of the illegal immigrants who become hostages of unscrupulous employers, debasing wages, working hours and rights, and creating unease between legalized and illegal workers. Obviously, none of this is in the workers’ interest.

A daily newspaper wrote in September of this year: «the quota system has only legalized three people... a Brazilian citizen, agricultural worker; a Moldavian citizen, office worker; and a Ukranian citizen, a galleyboy».

The 8 500 vacancies for foreign workers which the Government created after a “very rigorous” analysis e several ministerial speeches only met with 60 applications. Of these, only three managed to get their work permits.

Obviously, the Portuguese entrepreneurs continue to prefer the illegal recruitment of immigrants to the official and legal proceedings. This a refined hypocrisy. We do not forget the anti-immigrant speech which marked the rentrée of the CDS/PP last year. Obviously, the xenophobic speech for the conservative public opinion is then translated into the sacrificing of immigrant citizens’ most elementary rights, at the service of unsrupulous entrepreneurs!

The present situation is marked by the imposition of an economic and social model of over-exploitation which affects both the Portuguese and the foreign workers. For this reason, our Party has launched the slogan “Portuguese and immigrant workers, a common struggle”, and I think you will agree with this call for unity in action on social issues, but also against the right-wing policies of «divide and rule», which launch workers against workers and seek to blame the immigrants for unemployment and social deterioration.

Enough alternance, what we need is an alternative!

In effect, the urgently country needs a differnt policy, an alternative policy to the right-wing policies that have cyclically and continuously been carried out, both by the PS and by the PSD, whether alone or with the CDS/PP.

Confronted with the present Government’s misdeeds, the PS has, so far, only pledged to repeal the Law on House Rents, remaining significantly quiet in relation to the Labour Code, the changes in the health system, the privatizations.

Its neoliberal stance does not augur well. Just recently, on the issue of reductions in the tax on labour income (IRS), the PS took an even more backward position than [the Cabinet Minister] Bagão Félix, and we are all agreed that this is no mean feat!

Thus, we do not in the least doubt and are actually very firmly convinced that building a left-wing alternative – which will necessarily be based on the present context and on the agreement or convergence of the main forces in opposition to the right-wing government – is a pressing national necessity and corresponds to the vivid yearning of many, many thousands of Portuguese [men and women].

And we always, tirelessly, work with this conviction, seeking to bring together points of view, convergences and more or less broad agreements between the democratic forces.

At the same time, we naturally insist that our commitment and our pledge is to building a left-wing alternative which necessarily implies breaking with both the policies of the right-wing government and with many of the fundamental policies and guidelines of past PS governments.

It is therefore easy to see that the responsibility for the difficulties in building an alternative cannot be generically split up between the PCP and the PS. It is the PS that, first of all, refuses to contemplate the notion of a democratic convergence as the indispensible basis for an alternative (and even seeks to assert arrogantly hegemonistic ambitions and demands) and, secondly, is not open to any kind of critical assessment of its past policies in office.

There are certainly many democrats who think that all problems could be overcome with dialogue, tea and courtesy between the leaders of the parties to the left of the current Government.

But we continue to think that the democrats, the left-wing men and women, cannot be mere spectators of this process, whether sceptical or enthusiastic.

We continue thinking that the safest path to achieving a left-wing alternative lies in having the democrats and left-wing men and women understand that it is their yearnings, their willingness to fight for a new policy (and not just a new Cabinet), as well as their options (and not just electoral options) that can best ensure a positive and hopeful course of events.

And, far from any arrogance or exclusivism, we continue thinking that it is the electoral strengthening of the PCP that can bring closer, make feasible and finally materialize in Portugal a truly left-wing alternative, worthy of that name.

The forthcoming local government elections

Comrades:

We are just over a year away from one of the most important political battles which the Party will be called upon to face in 2005. A battle that will require a broad and strong commitment by all our Party organizations and members, so that, side by side with our coalition partners – whom we wish to greet here – and with the many thousands of independents who embody the activity of the CDU [United Democratic Coalition], we can successfully tackle it. A battle that requires a careful observation of the requirements raised by the new calendar for these elections, and a careful programming of all the measures and actions needed to prepare them.

We are preparing for this, aware of the difficulties, but also confident of our possibilities, of the strength of the Party’s organized action and of the acknowledged value and prestige of our local government work. And also confident that, with our work and presence in this electoral battle, translated into the effort of running in the largest possible number of local government bodies, we can and must contribute to carry further the assertion of the PCP’s irreplaceable role in defending the communities’ interests. And we justly and legitimately expect them to confirm our positions, to help us win new local governments and to expand our presence in yet others.

The main challenge that we face is to be well aware of the fact that it is in our hands and in our work that lies the key to positively influencing the general context in which the forthcoming elections will take place, and to asserting the CDU and the PCP as a major national force in local government, with a strength and influence that corresponds to the importance of our work and to the prestige that we have deservedly won as a result of our work among the people.

A different Party,
Serving the people and Portugal

Comrades:

Since our 17th Congress, and having had to face difficulties and a particularly agressive, insidious and prolongued offensive – that few others would be able to withstand – that counted with the participation of ex-Party members and created difficulties in strengthening our social, political and electoral influence, the Party managed to carry out an intensive and permanent work and activity to defend the interests of the workers, the people and the country.

Thousands of Party members embodied, in a determined manner, the debate, mobilization and organization of the struggle of the working class, of working people and of other social strata against the government policies, seeking to multiply its effects, in a dialectical way, through the Party’s qualified institutional activity in the Assembly of the Republic [Parliament], in local government and in the European Parliament.

Risking ommissions, we should stress, among others, the struggle of the Marinha Grande glass workers, the Bombardier workers, the metalworkers, chemical workers, textile and shoe workers – all to defend their jobs, the productive apparatus and national production; the struggles in defense of the public sector and of public services, with the struggles of transportation workers, and the workers of Carris [Lisbon buses], Metro [Lisbon Underground] and Transtejo [company that operates the cross-Tagus transports], the workers of the railways, of the air sector, but also of OGMA [military equipment], EDP [electricity], GALP [oil industry], PT [telecommunictaions]; the struggle of Public Employees against the privatization of services, against the dismantling of the National Health Service, the defense of public education and of Social Security, the struggle to dignify careers and wages, the struggle of police forces, the struggle of textile, shoe and metalworkers against the delocation of their companies.

The mass struggle reached a high point with the December 2002 General Strike, called by the CGTP-IN [Trade Union Central] against the package of labour legislation. Despite the [other trade union central] UGT’s position, over 700 thousand workers joined the strike.

The offensive is not over. Not always have the workers been successful. But if the struggle, with the PCP’s support, had not been carried out, a different and far worse Labour Code would now be in force, the consequences of the right-wing policies would be much more socially painful, other sectors and social strata would not have felt encouraged to act and fight for their specific rights. The struggle was, and is, worthwhile.

We have also had to confront the laws targetting the PCP, in an unacceptable interference in our freedom to choose our forms of organization. In itself, this speaks volumes about the view of democracy of those who enacted these laws. These laws are tailor-made to strike against the PCP, against its organization, its mode of operation, its initiatives, and in particular., the “Avante!” Festival. As is stated in the Draft Political Resolution, they are unacceptable laws, against which we must fight, and the repeal of which we will continue to demand with determination.

In this Party Congress we are debating changes to the Party Constitution. The Party Constitution corresponds to the needs and the requirements which the Party’s activity faces.

The cahnges that are proposed are those which are considered strictly necessary, as a result of the Party’s own experience and assessment.

It is necessary to take into account that strengthening our Party is a decisive issue for the struggle of the workers and of the people, and to defend national sovereignty. Increasing the PCP’s influence is an issue for all Party members and organizations, but it is also in the interest of the Portuguese people and democracy. The Party collective and its organizations have carried out an activity which often exceeded our forces, and which was only possible thanks to the great generosity, dedication and commitment of Party members. And this effort must continue, because it is esentially this effort that will break new ground. What we want, is to be assessed for what we are, for what we stand for, for what we really do and defend. May others judge us for the great causes that we embody with unique courage, coherence and seriousness.

We do not want to be carried on a silver platter, we just want open minds and to be rigorously assessed for what we, as Communists, most pride – the fact that we are actors of social transformation, of the struggle against injustice and the prepotence of the powerful, in defense of those who are exploited, humiliated and forgotten.

Strengthening the Party is an issue that must be confronted on many levels, but an essential requisite is the strengthening of our organization, of our own resources, of our cohesion based on the Party’s principles in organizational terms.

Following the 16th Party Congress and the 2002 National Conference, we launched the general movement to strengthen the Party’s organization. A national initiative to contact Party members was undertaken, and important results have already been achieved. We preservered with the line of strengthening Party organizations in the shopfloors and workplaces, we took steps forward in giving new responsibilities to cadre, in renewing and rejuvenating. There was a significant number of recruitments, with nearly 6000 new members, some 40% of which under 30 years of age. Our activity among the youth was intensified, with the JCP’s important role, struggle, growth in ranks and general attitude: “Dreams have a Party, and that Party is the PCP!”. The circulation of the Party press has grown, although we are still falling much short of what could be achieved. Among many others, these are elements that reveal that a stronger PCP is not just necessary, but possible. And it is necessary and possible with the participation of all and of every one of us.

We have a Party with thousands of active members, who give their best to materialize the PCP’s goals of transformation. But we know that many shortcomings and weaknesses persist. We know we need a stronger Party.

We need to make better use of the cadre, stimulate the initiative and activity of our members and organizations on concrete issues.

We must continue recruiting. But it is not enough to recruit, because afterwards it is necessary to organize and incorporate the new members and seek to make good use of their militancy.

We have all heard one or other citizen saying «... I joined the Party, but I am still waiting for them to contact me ...». We must free up new energies, find new blood and new capabilities. We do not work for the statistics. And we must continue fighting against the routine, against solutions, attitudes and methods that do not correspond to the present requirements.

The Party does not sanctify and make an issue of principle out of issues that are not of principle, just for the sake of using the argument of concessions to keep everything as it was. In the same way, we do not join in phony “modernizations” that de-characterize and undermine our unity and cohesion, just for the sake of trying to have the media’s appreciation or favour. And this is true both in organizational and in theoretical issues. We do not have a unilateral, scholastic or simplistic view of Marxism-Leninism, nor do we reduce it to a slogan without content and practical translation. We do not transform this powerful and valuable tool for the analysis of a changing reality and guide for action into its opposite.

Dogmatization leads to theoretical stagnation and this in turn leads to serious mistakes and to void the content of the theory itself. Marxism-Leninism must be constantly enriched through the analysis of new situations, phenomena, processes, knowledge and experiences. This also presupposes the study and knowledge of the reality where we act, openess to life, to dialogue and to debate with others. As has already been said, bad advocates for our theory are those who transform “theoretical principles into eternal truths”, that is, those who transform theoretical principles into dogma, dogma into objective laws and hope that these supposed laws, because they were to be objective, may become reality according to the principle turned into dogma.

We underline the well-known words of the Manifesto of the Communist Party: «the Communists’ theoretical propositions in no way rest upon ideas, upon principles that have been invented by this or that improver of the world. They are merely the general expressions of real relations in an existing class struggle, in a historical movement which is taking place before our eyes». As Bertolt Brecht said «... do not accept what is a matter of habit as a natural thing, because in times of bloody disorder, of organized confusion, of consciencious arbitrariness, of dehumanized Humanity, nothing should seem natural and nothing should seem impossible to change...».

This is why we must take care of this valuable “instrument” of change which is our Party.

In the Draft Political Resolution, and following up on the results of the national initiative of contact [with Party members], a series of measures are proposed which should be materialized as a whole, in order to strengthen the Party, and taking into account the forces we have and the priorities which will be defined and which must be accomplished.

At the level of leadership work, of giving responsibility to cadre, in particular in the organisation and intervention with the working class and the workers, in the companies and workplaces and grass roots organisations in general, of the strengthening of intermediate level organisms, a greater integration and participation of the Party members. The attention, accompaniment and work with the strata and social groups of great importance, like the intellectuals and technical cadres, other sectors of intermediate urban strata, small and medium-sized farmers and the youth. Measures of strengthening the work in information, propaganda and explanation, of circulating the Party press. Particular attention should also be paid to a great asset of our Party: the broad unity activity, the work of the communists in workers’ organisations and among the communities, the direct action of the Party and the development of its prestigious and qualified work in the institutions. Measures guided towards the collection of indispensable financial resources, a political task of the first order, for our activity and an international presence in accordance with our goals.

These are the fundamental issues that are faced by the Party in strengthening its organisation, intervention and influence, in order to carry out its role.

Comrades,

We would be irreparably absent-minded and irresponsible if we did not recognize that the high tide of caricature, rudeness, insults, disfigurements and falsifications which, decade after decade, year after year and month after month, tries to submerge and trample upon what the PCP truly is, defends, proposes and does, cause us considerable harm and difficulties to our intervention, to our influence and to the capacity of attraction to our proposals and political project.

But knowing this and being conscious of this is one matter. Quite a different matter is someone supposing or hoping that the Portuguese Communists will surrender, kneel down or be drowned in such a tide or give up defending their honour and dignity and the truth about what they really are, really do and really want..

With full respect for the freedom of expression and sovereignty of decision of the delegates to the Congress, we fully trust that the dealings of our XVII Congress of the PCP will show:

a Party which, like no other in Portugal, is capable of stating and critically analysing its own shortcomings, weaknesses, drawbacks, mistakes and difficulties;

a Party which, far from closing unto itself and losing contact with reality and its strongest requirements, wants to amplify, strengthen and reinvigorate its intervention in Portuguese society and establish deeper bonds of solidarity and action with all men and women who, in the diversity of their aspirations, opinions and positions, share a common will of conquering a different and better course for Portugal;

a Party which is not willing to sweetly become diluted in the swamp of fuss, superficiality, weather vaning, demagoguery and irresponsibility which threatens to submerge national political life, and wishes to continue to have the courage, even against the tide, of using its heritage of coherence, seriousness, dedication, consistency and sense of responsibility;

a Party which does not discuss the importance of the individual in the political life and activity, but believes that it is absolutely necessary to reinvigorate the democratic life of the country, not with more personal image promotions, but with more debate, more choices and more options around ideas, causes and political projects;

a Party which wants to live well with doubts, with interrogations and the uncertainties of the times we live in, but which does not want to exchange for a plate of lentils its deep convictions and the great causes that give meaning to its existence and its 83 year old struggle, but rather give them a strengthened and renewed projection, affirmation and vitality.

A Party and a collective of militants and supporters who, even though some pretend not to see or not to understand, are a living and acting body in Portuguese democracy and constitute an incomparable current of generosity, of personal disinterest, of consecration at the service of others, of generous commitments to life and the struggle, who are a touching and unforgettable heritage of democratic Portugal;

A Party which, for better or worse, wants to animate, consolidate and give hope and strength to the wide movement of wills and aspirations that flow through Portuguese society so as to, as soon as possible, free the country from the disastrous governing of the right and conquer a true alternative of the left, which means not a mere change of labels and faces, but a new course and a new policy at the service of the workers, the people and the country;

A Party, which far from the fatalisms and determinisms, reaffirms in its thinking, in its guideline and in its struggle, its deep faith in the changing action of the human beings, its profound conviction that History has not come to an end and that democracy and socialism continue inscribed as indispensable projects for a Portugal with a future, in a fairer world.

Long live the 17th Congress!
Long live JCP!
Long live the Portuguese Communist Party!

>
  • PCP
  • Central
  • Álvaro Cunhal
  • Cuba
  • European Union
  • United Nations
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam
  • War