Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary, Rally of the 43rd «Avante!» Festival

«A vote for CDU counts towards the PS not having free reign to practice old policies»

«A vote for CDU counts towards the PS not having free reign to practice old policies»

It is with immense joy that we salute all the constructors of the «Avante!» Festival, the participants and guests, our friends from the Ecologist Party «The Greens» and the Democratic Intervention, and all the independents that, with us, integrate CDU.

A special salute to the youth and JCP who, both constructing and participating, are proof of the Festival’s future. A Festival that encapsulates the dream we pursue: the project for Portugal for which we fight will, one day, have the beauty of our «Avante!» Festival.

We have stated, and those who participate in our Festival see it, that this is the greatest political and cultural event in our Country.

A Festival created with work and art, the two building blocks of humanity that are closely tied with the identity of our «Avante!» Festival.

A Festival built with the militant effort of a great collective who — while building this singular political and cultural initiative, this space of affirmation of the values of fraternity, peace, friendship, internationalist solidarity, democracy and socialism — is fighting and answering the most demanding tasks, in diverse fronts, fulfilling its role in defence of the workers, people and Country. And is ready to confidently fight in the electoral battle in less than a month!

Allow me to salute in particular the dozens of foreign delegations who, through their important participation, provided living content to the internationalist dimension of the «Avante!» Festival, mutual solidarity, solidarity with struggles throughout the world where peoples fight for their legitimate rights and aspirations.

Solidarity that is increasingly necessary in an international situation marked by dangerous and multifaceted imperialist aggression directed against all countries and peoples who don’t submit to its dictates and interests and who sovereignty take their destinies into their own hands.

War, coercion and military siege, economic and diplomatic sanctions and blockades, arms race and nuclear threat, disrespect of treaties and agreements, confronting international law to impose its global hegemony, the United States of America, with the complicity of its allies, namely NATO, engage in their unrestrained strategy of blackmail, destabilization and aggression.

Confronted with the deepening of its structural crisis and intensification of its contradictions, responsible for the brutal intensification of labour exploitation, for the evermore reactionary, authoritarian and fascistic shift, for the insatiable appropriation of nature’s resources and the degradation of the environment — capitalism, and its exploitative, oppressive, aggressive and predatory nature, is at the root of the problems, crises, conflicts, wars, and immense scourges afflicting the peoples of the world.

Eighty years after the beginning of World War Two — which caused over 50 million deaths and an immense legacy of suffering and destruction —, the convergence and unity in action of the forces of peace and social progress is more imperative than ever to stop the disaster towards which imperialism is dragging Humanity.

Convergence and unity in action among communists and between these and other progressive forces who have one of their most important and consequential expressions in the firm and active solidarity with the peoples and forces on the front line of imperialist aggression.

Solidarity with the peoples of the Middle East, who face occupation, war and encroachment — as in Iraq, Syria, Yemen or martyred Palestine.

Solidarity with the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean who face attempts of isolation and blockade, of destabilization and coups, blackmail and threats of military intervention — as in Cuba and Venezuela.

Solidarity with the peoples of Africa who face interventionism, the pillage of resources, neo-colonialism.

Solidarity between the forces who face an increasingly neoliberal, militaristic and federalist European Union, and who fight for a Europe of cooperation, social progress and peace, for a Europe of workers and peoples.

Solidarity that also demands the development of struggle in each country in defence of the rights and interests of workers and peoples, against exploitation and oppression, for sovereignty and development, for peace, for democracy and socialism.

In Portugal, we are close to a very important electoral battle. A decisive battle that will determine the immediate and future evolution of the Country and the lives of the Portuguese. Four years ago, in 2015, we fought and won, with the struggle of workers and people and the decisive contribution of PCP, a hard and prolonged battle to interrupt a violent and retrograde offensive, with brutal conditions for the living conditions of the Portuguese.

We defeated a government who, with implacable severity, executed and deepened a brutal program of aggression, exploitation and national impoverishment that PS, PSD and CDS accepted and coordinated with the IMF, European Union and ECB.

In a Parliament with a new composition and in a framework where none of the parties responsible for more than four decades of right-wing policy in Portugal had conditions to impose its policies fully, it was possible to begin, with the decisive contribution of PCP and PEV, a process of restitution of rights and incomes and advance with new conquests, which translated into an improvement of the living conditions of the Portuguese.

For four years, we fought internal resistance and threats and external pressures from big capital and the political forces in its service, where each advance called upon the struggle of workers and people, and always with the firm action, initiative and proposal of PCP and the forces of CDU.

Today, we need to wage and win a new battle — create conditions to continue to advance and avoid going backwards.

Advance decidedly towards the solution of the Country’s main problems, which remain postponed. Advance in deepening the rights and living conditions of workers and people, fend off the dangers of any return to policies of impoverishment and increased exploitation.

This is what is at stake in this important and decisive electoral battle on October 6th for parliament: advance in what is necessary for the development of the Country and the rights of workers and people, giving more strength to CDU, or go backwards.

Let there be no illusions, what was advanced is not guaranteed and recent times demonstrate the balance is tilting towards the side contrary to the defence of popular interests, particularly against workers.

PCP will wage this important and decisive battle, in the framework of CDU, in all electoral circles.

In this new fight, we are determined to confirm and widen our influence in the circles where we elected and have MPs, and will wage with determination the battle to elect CDU MPs where we have none!

We aim to grow in votes and MPs, confident in our work, in the unquestionable role of PCP and CDU in taking the Country forward and defending the interests of workers and people, with the project for an alternative future that we embody.

The people will decide. There are no forgone winners, nor a priori elected MPs. All the paths towards a reinforcement of CDU are open and we will face the voters, telling them they will not find a political force other than CDU that can give greater guarantees they will defend what was achieved and advance further.

A force that always presents solutions to serve the workers and people. The only force that next October, as 4 years ago, guarantees the interests of workers and people will not fall prey to the crises that capital creates, nor be subjected to the dogma of the deficit. A stronger CDU, means a more certain and secure path forward.

Yes, a vote in CDU is the only vote that can guarantee this!

The sure and secure vote to insure a most just distribution of wealth and that won’t resign before injustice and inequality.

A sure vote to guarantee a developed Portugal, of solidarity, justice and progress!

A secure vote to achieve a left-wing policy and ensure dignified wages and pensions, effective social rights, better working and living conditions for all.

A vote that truly matters to strengthen a patriotic policy and guarantee the Country advances in the fight against its weaknesses and dependencies!

A vote to combat the causes of our backwardness and affirm a sovereign development.

A vote investing in our national potential and wealth, defending them to guarantee the development, progress and improvement of out people’s living conditions.

There is not much time until the elections and plenty of work to do. We need each and everyone’s availability and ability to wage this important fight. Now is the time to advance with our active presence, with our word in the workplace, in each company, each place, each city or electoral circle, embodying a campaign able to insure the success of CDU in this new battle!

We will address all those who have ever voted CDU, reminding them their vote in CDU was never betrayed but always honoured. We’ll meet with who never voted CDU to underline that, in CDU, PCP-PEV, they can find a broad space of convergence of democrats and patriots, of all those who want the Country to advance in wages and pensions, in public services and the State’s social functions, in public investment and economic promotion, in national production and work with rights.

It is up to us, our collective and individual action, to build a strong current of mobilization to vote in CDU and demonstrate the Portuguese workers and people have the possibility of achieving the Portugal we have a right to, giving more strength to CDU, with more votes and MPs, so the Country will truly advance!

These four years of the new stage of national life have demonstrated it was and is worth fighting to open the way to a solution to the people and Country’s problems.

We’ve demonstrated, from the first hour, the falsity of the recurrent campaigns trying to make us believe the legislative elections are to elect prime-ministers or that what is decisive to govern is which party gets most votes. Campaigns to perpetuate the vicious circle of alternation without alternative that for years drove the right-wing policies.

No! They are not for electing prime-ministers! They are for electing MPs. The recent national political life has dispelled that mistake, with the decisive contribution of PCP!

Contribution from this Party that did not stand waiting and conformed, as others, with the electoral results, but sought solutions and paths that immediately served the struggle of our people for better living conditions, but also the Country, confronted with continuous decline.

We were not hampered by circumstance and fought on!

We don’t run away from a fight, we engage it!

Because we are a Party that won’t leave the people and Country in a dead end, that knows the ground it treads on and always presents solutions to problems!

A Party with confidence and in whom one can trust! That does what it says and always fulfils its commitments!

These four years have proven this. Given the change in Parliament’s composition and the persevering initiative of PCP and PEV, in a framework where PS and its government, but also PSD and CDS, had no conditions to impose, by themselves, the fullness of their eternal policies, important advances in the lives of the Portuguese were possible.

Many of the measures the workers and the majority of Portuguese recognise as positive are marked by proposals from PCP and PEV.

Look at the most diverse sectors of our collective life and you will certainly find a measure to resolve a pressing problem, express a sign, a will to try answers to old problems, but also pave the way to novel solutions.

Yes, we gave priority in our proposals and action to the recovery of rights and incomes, the restitution and valuing of wages, holidays and Christmas bonus, a tax decrease for lower and intermediate incomes, to social benefits in unemployment, sickness, for people with disability, family benefits, valuing long contributory careers, fighting precariousness, but we look at the Country as a whole, to solve problems and signal a solution to show there is different way than impoverishing workers and people.

Looking at the Country as a whole, not subjecting everything and everyone to the myopic policy of the deficit by containing and postponing the Country’s problems, instead of a productive and more fecund solution invested in reinforcing investment, economic growth and more robust jobs, and valuing living conditions as an important motor of the economy.

With eyes upon the most diverse sectors, we advanced. Advanced with a proposal to increase pensions for three consecutive years. We advanced with a reduction in health bills and medication costs. Advanced with that important measure of free schoolbooks. We advanced with the Intermodal Transit Pass and lower transportation prices.

With eyes on the Country to support small and medium executives, we eliminated the Special Payment on Account and reduced fuel costs for farmers and anglers.

Advances achieved with hard work. Much of what was achieved wasn’t in the PS program, nor in the Government’s Program. Many and strong resistances had to be overcome in order to advance.

Have no doubt! When PCP and CDU gain strength, the solution to the people and Country’s problems gains strength.

Today, they’re waving the scarecrow of false excesses and announcing new crises to postpone the answer to problems and deny justice to the people and Country!

We know what this means and what they want. Maintain the commitments assumed with Brussels, giving priority to the deficit and accelerated rhythms of debt payment, even if that means rolling back investment, worker’s rights, the defence of public services and the State social functions, sacrificing the National Health Service, not investing in rolling stock to ensure population mobility, or going backwards on school books under the pretext of reusing, handing written and erased books.

Yes, we know what it means and what they want with the discourse of the crisis and excesses. It would mean, if they could, a stall on pensions without ensuring the increases we propose to guarantee their real valuing. It would mean stalling wage increases, so necessary and possible.

Let there be no illusions! PS hasn’t changed its nature, nor abandoned its fundamental options, as written into the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) of ill memory. Nor have PSD and CDS given up on their policy of disaster, extortion and setbacks that characterized their governing.

Look at their programs and their profession of faith and devotion to the rules and impositions of the European Union and Euro.

Look at their proposals to review the Constitution, but also to review the electoral laws, whose objectives are to ensure governing majorities with a minority of votes — the grand electoral subversion to perpetuate right-wing policies and their mandate.

In this electoral battle, where we’re deciding between advancing or retreating, we’ve understood big capital’s wager: favour PS and create the conditions to freely and fully resume the policy that guarantees its interests and, simultaneously, limit the growth of the force it most fears — CDU!

In other words, the big economic interests want two things: an absolute majority for PS and less strength for CDU — the true obstacle to its project of exploitation and setbacks.

Those they can’t reach to attain these objectives, they send a message. They invent artificial scenarios, false decisive disputes that are anything but decisive and, in particular, since the old bipolarization between PS and PSD won’t stick in present circumstances, they try out new artificial bipolarizations, using the most ridiculous and false reasoning to hide what is evident: a vote in CDU counts, and counts well, to stop a PS absolute majority.

Yes, a vote in CDU counts to stop PS from having its hands free to practice old policies, with or without PSD and CDS, a secure and coherent vote that decides another policy.

Yes, a vote in CDU is the necessary choice for workers and people in the October 6th election!

In this fight we are waging in order to advance, the struggle of workers and popular masses is essential. Struggle that developed intensely, in the most diverse sectors and companies and in the convergent actions promoted by CGTP-IN. A struggle that was the basis for the defence, restitution and conquest of rights, that faced the employers and allowed advances in living conditions of workers and their families. Struggle of populations that allowed the defence of rights, public services and quality of life.

An organized struggle that marked social and political reality, despite occultation, silencing, manipulation and provocation.

Struggle for a generalized increase in wages, against precariousness, against work schedule deregulation, for better living conditions, to repeal serious labour legislation norms.

Regarding labour legislation, the repeal of norms attacking worker’s rights was and is necessary, but instead the PS government, with its class option at capital’s beck and call, established an agreement with employer confederations and UGT, approved a law in convergence with PSD and CDS, which the President enacted, and which not only maintained the existing grave norms but added others, namely extending the experimental period to 180 days, opening a new door towards generalizing precariousness. Faced with a law with elements against the Constitution, PCP took the initiative to have the Constitutional Court appreciate the law.

And the struggle continues and will continue in the work places, companies and streets. We salute workers, their unity, organization and struggle, and salute CGTP-IN, the great trade-union confederation of Portuguese workers, we affirm PCP’s solidarity and support.

We are far from resolving the problems that years and years of right-wing policies created and which the present governing policy is incapable of resolving.

Portugal needs solutions to answer accumulated setbacks. The structural deficits in production, demography, science and technology, which hinder development and the insufficient economic growth. The chronic social problems, the worsened working conditions, the profound social and regional inequalities, the decay in public services.

The Country needs a true change. Portugal needs a new path with another policy, a rupture with right-wing policies, because there is no exit with that policy, be it by the hands of PSD and CDS, or the hand of PS.

The Country is not condemned to be a colony of economic groups and big multinationals, nor can it be shackled to constraints it must, sooner or later, necessarily break.

We assume the need to value work and workers as a decisive issue for the Country. A general increase in wages, including the National Minimum Wage to 850 euros. A national emergency for a more just distribution of wealth, to promote the national economy, to retain and foster thousands of workers trained in our Country, who continue to leave at the rate of 80 thousand a year, to answer the demographic deficit, to strengthen Social Security and ensure better pensions for the future.

We need to value who works and who worked. We need to fight precariousness, work schedule deregulation and ensure a decrease to a 35 hour work week, protection for shift work, guarantee the defence of union rights, including the right to strike, and repeal the grave labour legislation norms.

We need to increase the real value of pensions, as well as the right to a full pension without penalizations for workers with 40 years of contributions, and to return the retirement age to 65 years.

We want to advance. We want a Country that respects the rights of parents, grandparents, but also children. Consolidating advances like school books, but also giving a new and decisive step guaranteeing free day-care to all children untill the age of three.

Advance in broadening social protection, by reinforcing the Public Social Security System, capable of ensuring universal and higher family subsidies and reinforcing social benefits, giving the necessary answer to situations of unemployment and disease. We want the diversification of sources of financing, fighting the different attempts to privatize the system.

We want to advance in valuing and empowering public services, which need more means and to contract thousands of professionals. The National Health Service needs to be defended and valued, and the Portuguese people have the right to a family doctor and nurse, cheaper medication, proximity services and being treated with dignity and without charge during all life stages. Schools, hospitals, health centres, courts, libraries, theatres, research centres, public transportation, roads and railroads, ports and airports need means and a policy that makes investment a priority. A policy that promotes the maintenance, requalification and construction of infra-structures, as well as better working conditions. This demands public investment never below 5% of GDP.

The advances following the reduction of transport prices had an enormous social and environmental effect. But to avoid rollbacks, we must advance in improving the capacity and quality, and replace individual with collective transportation, we need a National Investment Plan in public transportation.

Part of the resources the Country needs to answer the aspirations of workers and people also requires a just fiscal policy, based on the effective taxation of big capital and the reduction of taxes for workers and lower incomes; reducing indirect taxes relative to direct taxes. We want to advance with a reduction in VAT for energy to 6%.

We want the Country to produce. Produce and produce more, in particular want we need to import. Industry, agriculture and fisheries are not, not for PCP or CDU, an issue for the market or what is possible under European Union rules. We need food, we need medication, we need boats and trains to improve the life of populations. Our path is producing here what they want us to buy abroad. A Country capable of taking advantage of new technologies and the digital revolution, placing them at the service of who produces and the national interest.

We want the Country to advance, where the right to housing and mobility aren’t crushed by the logic of speculation. There is a public response that has to be given, promoting the construction of housing by the State and urban rehabilitation. We need to promote the repeal of the “eviction counter” and ensure the right to renting for a minimum period of 10 years.

We want the Country to advance. We want to recover incomes, but also instruments that today are in foreign hands. We want to recover for the Country what belongs to the Country. In banking and insurance, in energy and telecommunications, in airports and highways. Portugal has to guarantee its own development strategy. The Country can not wipe out the losses of failed banks and then privatize them again, as occurred with BES; or accept the destruction of CTT and the postal service.

We want to advance in building a cohesive and balanced Country, that ensures the defence of the interior and rural world, with regionalization, territorial planning and fighting desertification and depopulation.

We want a Portugal with a future and need a patriotic and left-wing policy, and a government to achieve it. An alternative policy that won’t submit, not to the European Union, not the Euro. That assumes the sovereign right of the Country to define its economic, budgetary and monetary policy.

A policy that wants to renegotiate the debt and free resources for the Country’s development.

A policy that won’t leave any of the many problems behind.

A policy that wants to value cultural production and enjoyment assuming the important objective of achieving 1% of the State Budget for culture. Where young people can reach the highest levels of learning, investing in public schools, reinforcing School Social Services and ending university tuition. A policy that knows that given the serious environmental problems we face, the answer isn’t new businesses in the name of the environment, but a policy that breaks with the capitalist logic of maximum exploitation of the workforce and the planet’s resources. A policy committed to fighting corruption, addressing its deeper causes and endowing the competent authorities with the adequate means to fulfil their mission and ensuring a new path to Justice that is equal, accessible and closer to citizens.

A policy to ensure a free and democratic Portugal, based on respect for the Constitution.

Portugal is not condemned to be left behind, nor going backwards. Another policy and advancement is possible and necessary.

Advancing is necessary and therefore it is necessary to give CDU greater strength.

The struggle of workers and populations, and the intervention and action of CDU led to advancements. It will be with a stronger CDU that we will advance in the solution to the problems of workers, people and Country.

A vote in CDU will count and decide another policy, to guarantee a sovereign Portugal, a Country in command of its destiny, a people that builds its future.

We have great battles ahead that we will face with great confidence.

This «Avante!» Festival is an example of that confidence. Its success is an expression of that confidence, that determination that allows us to pursue the tasks ahead with greater strength and energy.

But confidence also because of our history of intervention, action and initiative in defence of the rights, interests and aspirations of our people and homeland.

This history of struggle and intervention that allows us to state proudly, eye to eye, what we stand for. We are a Party with solutions for our time. We are the Party that will take the Country forward!

We are the Portuguese Communist Party!

This Party with almost one hundred years of history that gains honour every day, assuming the unshakable commitment, derived from their class nature, as the Party of the working class and all workers.

This Party, PCP, with its communist identity, renewed and reinforced after the Campaign of 5000 contacts with workers, with whom we raised the issue of giving our Party greater strength with their membership and militancy.

New communist militants, whom we want to welcome, not only to have, but to intervene, in the companies and work places, to widen our base organizations, to reinforce our ties with the masses, the working class and workers, the primary reason for our existence.

This is the Party, Communist, Portuguese, that lives and intervenes animated by the goal of building the Patriotic and Left-wing policy the Country needs, towards an Advanced Democracy with the Values of April in the future of Portugal, who won’t give up, nor undermine its supreme objectives, but rather reaffirm them daily in the struggle, the emancipating project of building a new society, without exploiters and exploited, the construction of socialism and communism.

Yes, there are reasons to be confident. Confidence that animated the struggle during the black night of fascism, confidence that overflowed during the glorious days of the revolution, confidence that never abandoned us during the fight against right-wing policies and monopolist restoration. A confidence of who knows that the future we dream of annd fight for be closer with a stronger Party.

The Portuguese people know from experience that this Party, associated with each advance over the almost one hundred years of its history, always drew strength from the struggle for their rights, that this Party never failed to defend their interests, that this Party, more necessary today than yesterday, never betrayed their aspirations. As it was yesterday, so it is today, and will continue to be tomorrow!

We are prepared for the fights ahead. Ready and animated by our convictions and ideals. Ready with the necessary political courage. Ready with all the courage that may be needed. With tremendous confidence!