Comrades and friends,
We thank you for your fraternal participation in this Seminar. We Portuguese, are very happy to be able to share with you the celebration of this major landmark in our history, one that had, and still has, far-reaching effects on life in Portugal, and had significant international repercussions.
The April Revolution was an assertion of freedom, social emancipation and national independence.
The April Revolution was triggered by the Armed Forces Movement's (MFA) military uprising on 25 April 1974, instantly followed by a popular uprising. It thoroughly changed Portuguese society.
The April Revolution was the culmination of a persistent and heroic struggle by the Portuguese people. It ended the fascist dictatorship [1926-1974], it achieved freedom, established a democratic regime with broad popular participation; it ended the colonial war and recognised the rights of colonised peoples to independence after centuries of colonisation; it brought trade-union freedom and many rights for working people; it liquidated state monopoly capitalism, the monopolist conglomerates and their economic and political domination, by nationalising strategic branches of the economy and placing them in the service of people and country; large-scale land ownership (latifundio) in Portugal's South was abolished by an agrarian reform that ended unemployment and improved living conditions for people in those regions; it established important rights for women and the youth, and raised people's living standards; it ended Portugal's international isolation and opened up the road to policies of peace, cooperation and friendship with all peoples of the world.
The working class, working people, the masses of the people and the progressive military – the “April captains” – united in a People-MFA alliance, and were the lead players in the democratic gains that were achieved between 1974-1975 and later enshrined the Constitution of the Republic adopted on 2 April 1976. Let us recall that this Constitution established the goal of “ensuring a transition to socialism, by creating conditions for the democratic exercise of power by the working classes”.
On the Portuguese Revolution's 40th anniversary, we propose to share with you some of the particular features and the important teachings that this process produced for the Portuguese workers' and people's struggle for social and national emancipation.
The April Revolution was at once an anti-fascist, anti-monopoly, anti-latifundio, anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist revolution. It was a revolution whose key features confirmed the Programme for democratic and national revolution that had been adopted by the PCP at its 6th Congress, in 1965.
In drawing up its Programme, the PCP – applying marxism-leninism – analysed Portugal's actual situation, its history, its peculiarities, taking into consideration its level of capitalist development, the classes that wielded power and how they exercised it, as well as its dual status as both a coloniser country and a country colonised by foreign imperialism.
Confirming the general laws of revolutionary processes – specifically those concerning the role of the working class and the masses of the people, the party, political power, ownership of means of production – the Portuguese Revolution also confirmed that those laws do not clash with the existence of national specificities, but rather, are dialectically related to them.
As other processes of revolutionary change have also done, the Portuguese Revolution too, showed that revolutions are not copied, they do not emerge out of manuals as if they were some kind of blueprint to which reality must conform – different situations will naturally require different solutions when building the new society.
The Portuguese Revolution also highlighted the importance of the national question and its inseparable relation with the class question, thus confirming the importance of nations as the decisive arena for the defence and achievement of rights and for the unfolding of social change and peoples' liberation processes.
The April Revolution highlighted the fact that the four main aspects of democracy – economic, social, political and cultural – are inseparable and complementary, as is their relationship to the national arena, that is, to national independence and sovereignty.
In the Portuguese Revolution, the achievement of freedoms, rights and a regime of political democracy were inseparable from the liquidation of the monopoly conglomerates' and latifundio owners' economic and political power. In fact, when the revolution confronted conspiracies, sabotage and attempted counter-revolutionary coups, those achievements were themselves essential in the defence of the budding freedoms and democracy.
Having been born out of Portugal's situation, with its peculiarities, and out of the nature of fascist dictatorship in Portugal – “a terrorist government of monopolies (in association with foreign imperialism) and of latifundio owners” – the Portuguese Revolution was not a bourgeois-democratic revolution, but was also not a socialist revolution. An original feature of the Portuguese Revolution was that its anti-monopoly and anti-imperialist nature, as well as the goal of socialism, were both present – not in contradiction to each other, but in a dialectical relationship – as two different stages that were distinct yet complemented each other. There were goals in the democratic and national revolution stage that were also goals of the socialist revolution stage. That is, the struggle for the national and democratic revolution was already a component part of the struggle for socialism.
The People-MFA alliance was the revolutionary process's driving force. It was an anti-monopolist and anti-imperialist alliance that encompassed a very broad range of social strata among Portugal's people.
As in other revolutionary processes, in the Portuguese Revolution too, it was the creative action of the masses of the people that always preceded the political power structures' decision-making, and that was a determining factor of revolutionary changes – such as the nationalisations, workers' control of management, or the agrarian reform.
However, even though they achieved major and far-reaching changes, Portugal's workers and people did not manage to impose revolutionary power and build a democratic state to match those changes – thus confirming that the State question is a central issue in all revolutions.
From the very outset, the Portuguese Revolution had to confront economic sabotage and reactionary coups, divisions within the revolutionary forces and within the MFA, the role of the PS (Socialist Party) and its connections with the most reactionary circles, the actions of ultra-left groups, imperialism's pressures and interference – all of which slowed down and ultimately put an end to the revolutionary process. The first government that was formed by the PS, in a de facto alliance with the right wing forces, turned things around into a counter-revolutionary process of capitalist, big-landowner and imperialist comeback that – in spite of the resistance and struggles put up by Portugal's workers and people – has led Portugal into the extremely difficult situation that it is in now.
In 38 years of right-wing policies and 28 years of capitalist European integration – in the EEC/European Union – big capital, using social-democracy and right-wing forces, has promoted the reconstruction of the monopoly conglomerates and their return to economic and political domination. It has launched an onslaught against labour and social rights. The democratic regime has been debased. Retrograde and reactionary values have been made commonplace and extolled. National interests have been subordinated and sacrificed to foreign interests. It is has been a policy of continuous confrontation with Portugal's Constitution and democratic rule of law, that entails serious danger for the constitutional democratic regime as well as for national independence and sovereignty.
The April Revolution was an unfinished revolution. In spite of what it achieved in terms of historical advancement, many of its major achievements were later destroyed. Others, albeit weakened and threatened, still live on today in the everyday lives of Portugal's people.
In Portugal there was a revolutionary process because it corresponded to the objective needs of Portuguese society and to the yearnings of Portugal's people. Its legacy is a set of deeply-rooted achievements, experiences and values that live on into Portugal's present and future – and this is something that (and we highlight it) determines and distinguishes Portugal's current situation. The PCP's current Programme for an Advanced Democracy arises precisely out of this reality. The Programme was revised at the 19th Congress in 2012 and given a new title “An Advanced Democracy, the April Values in Portugal's Future”.
In fighting to break with decades of right-wing policies, the PCP is fighting for a patriotic and left-wing alternative that can clear the road for an Advanced Democracy capable of projecting the April Revolution's Values into Portugal's future as a part, a fully-fledged component, of the struggle for socialism.
This alternative and this road require that workers' and people's struggles be intensified and developed, that there be a convergence of democrats and patriots – and necessarily, a stronger PCP.
The Portuguese Revolution was part of that broad-based movement, and of that time of advancement in social and national liberation that in the 1970s – following the victory over nazi-fascism, and with a balance of forces favourable to the democratic and anti-fascist forces, the forces of peace and national liberation, of progress and socialism – marked the second half of the 20th century.
It was a time marked by great accomplishments and gains for the USSR and the socialist countries, by the working class's and the class-based trade-union movements' gains in the capitalist countries, by the colonial system's collapse and the liberation of peoples that had been colonised and exploited for centuries.
With the disappearance of the USSR and the socialist camp in Europe – and the changed balance of forces that resulted – imperialism lashed out into a wide-ranging offensive against the social and national liberation processes and against all the achievements, gains and advances made since the victory over nazi-fascism – seeking to reinstate its own worldwide domination, exploitation and hegemony and spreading the idea that history had ended.
However, world developments have proved that not only did history not end, but also that capitalism is a system that is ridden with unresolvable contradictions, deep injustice and social scourges, and that it is incapable of providing for peoples' needs, interests and aspirations.
As we have all witnessed, the expansion of capitalist relations of production to the whole planet, the unprecedented centralisation and concentration of capital, the overwhelming domination of finance capital, the commoditisation of all areas of social life, the system's increasingly speculative, rentist and parasitic nature, the growing role of corruption and criminal trafficking – are all key features of contemporary capitalism.
Forty years on since the April Revolution and the time in which it occurred, the international situation is now dominated by a deepening structural crisis of capitalism and by a major realignment of forces on a world scale. Imperialism's response to this is to intensify exploitation and national oppression, impose a massive devaluation of labour, and foster a huge retrogression and recolonisation in vast areas of the world.
In the midst of a deep crisis and exacerbation of its own contradictions, the European Union – dominated by its monopolies and its big powers led by Germany – is enhancing its neo-liberal, federalist and militaristic nature, and attacking workers' rights and peoples' sovereignties.
It should be stressed however, that while the big powers coordinate to exploit workers and conduct aggressions against peoples, among themselves they have not ceased to be rivals. Their mutual contradictions continue to be present, and tend to become more acute as the overproduction and overaccumulation crisis drags on.
Instability and insecurity are prevalent features in the international situation. The USA, with its allies, are tightening their political-military alliances – such as NATO, that is currently holding a summit meeting in Great Britain. They continue to advance in the arms race and militarism, they are making use of fascist and terrorist forces, they are spreading tension spots and destabilisation everywhere, fostering interference, aggression and war – this constitutes a serious threat to world peace, at a time when a new world war could mean the annihilation of Humankind.
Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people and its methodical colonisation of Palestine; the destruction of Yugoslavia; the aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya; the military operation against Syria; threats against Iran; growing military interventionism and recolonisation operations in Africa; the rampant militarisation in the Far Eat, targeting China; permanent tension on the Korean peninsula; revanchist Japanese militarism; the blockade against Cuba and the destabilisation against Venezuela and other countries of Latin America; the premeditated exacerbation of the situation in the Ukraine, as a way to try to escalate confrontation with the Russian Federation – are all expressions of imperialism's escalation of aggressiveness.
This situation makes it a pressing priority to achieve a convergence of forces that can come together in the struggle against imperialist wars, against oppression and the threat of fascism, and to strengthen movements for peace and solidarity with peoples.
Peace-lovers are confronted with the need to step up the struggle for disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament, for an end to foreign military bases, for the disbandment of NATO, for peaceful resolution of international conflicts, for respect of national independence and sovereignty, for social progress, friendship and cooperation among peoples – for actions that contribute to raise awareness about the fact that the cause of wars lies in the system that generates them: capitalism.
Imperialism's offensive is having to confront workers' and peoples' resistance. Even though on a world scale this is still a time of resistance and accumulation of forces, the fact is that capitalism's difficulties, contradictions and crisis, and above all the mounting struggle of workers and peoples all over the world, can hold back imperialism's most reactionary and aggressive circles and inflict upon them setbacks and retreats, and achieve important progressive and revolutionary gains and changes.
In the midst of this context, there is a major worldwide realignment of forces underway that, together with the USA's relative decline, is objectively calling into question imperialism's hegemonic domination. This is a complex process, that is not free of contradictions. But it may open up prospects for positive developments in the worldwide balance of forces: better ability to put up resistance against imperialist recovery, better conditions for ongoing processes where national independences and sovereignties are being asserted to move toward more advanced anti-monopoly and anti-imperialist changes. And ongoing processes that have socialism as their goal may be confirmed and reinforced.
The international situation bears within it very serious and great dangers. But it it also bears great potential for workers' and peoples' emancipation struggles.
Given the great demands that the situation places upon us, and considering that there are very diverse situations, we believe that the core task now is to strengthen communist parties and other revolutionary forces – their roots in the masses and their closeness to national realities. We also consider it essential to strengthen their unity and internationalist cooperation, to give more clout to joint or convergent action, by focussing on the many things that unite us. In this respect, the PCP attaches great value to the upcoming 16th International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties to be held on 13-15 November next in Ecuador.
In the same way, the PCP considers that convergence and unity between the international communist and revolutionary movement and other progressive and anti-imperialist forces is very important in the struggle for peoples' self-determination, in struggles for liberation from colonial rule, against fascism and oppression, for freedom and democracy, in defence of national sovereignty and independence, and for peoples' right to choose anti-monopoly and anti-imperialist change and to choose socialism.
In this regard, and on a European level, the PCP is engaged in fostering cooperation among communist parties, and between communist parties and other progressive forces whose goal is another Europe – one of cooperation, progress and peace.
Comrades and friends
We have shared with you some of our thoughts about the Portuguese Revolution and the situation in Europe and the World 40 years later, about the PCP's and the Portuguese people's experience of struggle, and about the PCP's analysis of developments in our country and the world.
We have done so with no pretense whatsoever of presenting the Portuguese Revolution as a universal model. Actually, as we have said earlier, the experience of the Portuguese Revolution has itself confirmed that there are no blueprints for revolution, and that the dialectical relationship between general laws of revolutionary processes and national specificities is very important.
In the same way – and considering the diverse situations, historical experiences, conditions and tasks that the parties and forces represented here have – we would also like to hear your thoughts and experiences, because, as you will understand, our party considers them very valuable.
Being a patriotic and internationalist party, the PCP fights to uphold national independence and sovereignty – the Portuguese people's inalienable right to decide on its own future – and stands in solidarity with the workers and peoples of all countries struggling for their legitimate rights and aspirations, for peace, friendship and cooperation among peoples.
It is with a full trust in the working class's, the working people's and the masses' determination, resistance, struggle and effectiveness, that the PCP continues to strive to strengthen its links with the Portuguese people.
Based on its 93-year experience of struggle, and on the historic experience of communists and revolutionaries throughout the world, that the PCP – party of the working class and of all working people – continues to struggle for the Portuguese people's legitimate interests, rights and aspirations: organising, fostering unity, development and success for all struggles, for the establishment of a broad social front, for the convergence of patriots and democrats, for a patriotic and left-wing alternative, for an Advanced Democracy, to embody the April Values in Portugal's future, for socialism and communism.
It is always the peoples that, through their struggle, end up determining the path of history. In view of capitalism's exploitative, oppressive, aggressive and predatory nature, the PCP considers that it is becoming more and more obvious that the communist view of the future, the need for a new society, for socialism and communism (through diverse paths and stages) is today becoming increasingly topical and important. We believe that this future is the great prospect that is available for workers and peoples.
Once again we salute the presence of the communist parties and progressive forces represented here. The PCP hopes that this Seminar can contribute to strengthen our ties of friendship, cooperation and solidarity.