Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, Secretário-Geral, 12th. Congress of the Portuguese Communist Youth

«We can count on the Young Communists to affirm that the communist ideal has a future and that the Future has a Party»

«We can count on the Young Communists to affirm that the communist ideal has a future and that the Future has a Party»

What a beautiful congress that the Portuguese Communist Youth held in these two days! A rich debate and knowledge of reality! Connection to the concerns, interests and aspirations of the Youth! A live debate, driven by the interest to look further, to seek the right solutions to the problems and the ways to get there!

I bring you, from the leadership of our Party, the Portuguese Communist Party, and from the entire party collective a strong greeting, a warm and fraternal embrace, addressed to all delegates to the 12th. Congress, to all comrades who, in order to hold it engaged themselves in various tasks, and to all the young communists that the current situation prevented from being here, but who follow with natural pride the holding of the Congress.

We salute the Portuguese youth, in a greeting that we want to extend to young people from all over the world, who are facing imperialism’s offensive, valuing the presence in the Congress of the President of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, a symbol of the importance that the Communist Youth gives to the front of the anti-imperialist struggle at the world level, but also of the prestige of JCP among so many progressive youth organisations, many of which, in fact, sent greetings to this Congress.

Please allow me comrades, to express solidarity with the Palestinian people

In view of the escalation of Israeli aggression, the PCP reaffirms its solidarity with the Palestinian people and with their just struggle against the occupation and for their national rights, internationally recognised but not materialised, and demands from the Portuguese government a clear and forceful position in defence of the national rights of the Palestinian people and compliance with the United Nations resolutions that enshrine them.

From here we call for the participation of solidarity actions, tomorrow, in Lisbon, Porto and Évora, in a great demonstration of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

A greeting that is even more deserved as the Young Communists organised this Congress, drafted, discussed and perfected their documents, elected their delegates, prepared the draft for the National Directorate, elected yesterday, at the same time that they fostered the struggle and action of the youth, organised and mobilised thousands of students and young workers in important days of struggle.

Initiative and action that does justice to the motto of your 12th. Congress - A thousand struggles on the Path of April - Organise - Transform.

The last few months have placed at the centre of attention the attack on the rights of workers, populations, youth, perpetrated under cover of the justification of the epidemic.

As the presentations that have been made here over the past two days have shown, the situation of young workers has worsened. Thousands were dismissed under the trial period, which PS, PSD and CDS allowed to be adopted at the end of the previous legislature. Many saw wages cut, rights called into question, working times deregulated. Precariousness spreads faster than the epidemic and young people wonder whether they can dream the future, or whether they must limit themselves to endure the present.

Secondary and Higher Education students were faced with almost two academic years called into question. Loss of content, difficulties for many thousands to access computers, to the Internet, or a place to attend online classes, and when they returned to classes, they found the same shortcomings there, with run-down schools, with overcrowded public transport problems or that pass once in the morning and once at the end of the day, with exams conditioning their lives, with the lack of teachers and staff, and with the same costs that burden families - tuition, materials, food, homes, etc.

Vocational Education students with their lives suspended, prevented from fulfilling the mandatory modules, from doing essential internships to finish the courses, subject to inappropriate hours, with subsidies and supports delayed.

The right to sports, culture, leisure, was not only postponed, but was in fact called into question, by rules that did not take into account, neither the possibilities that, over these months, have been demonstrated at different times, nor the importance of these activities for the young people, namely for their physical and mental health.

But more, reports came to the Congress about limitations on freedoms, the right to participation, the right to association. Student meetings prohibited, student elections postponed or cancelled, attempts to prevent protests, always with the excuse of the health situation, which takes all the blame.

And, on the other hand, news that the youth associations face difficulties due to the suspension of activities, closings of headquarters, postponement of the execution of projects.

Yes, a situation portrayed here with the vivid colours of reality that, as Lenin said, are always more impressive than any writing or theory.

A situation that the epidemic conditioned, we do not deny. But it was worsened both by the use made of it by those who saw an opportunity to heighten exploitation or to give yet another blow on rights and freedoms, or by the government's inability to respond, which neither the severity of the situation convinced to free itself from the impositions of the European Union and the Euro, the example of vaccines shows this, or the interests of big capital, which knows that it can always count on the support of the government.

And the government cannot even say that there was a lack of support or proposals on which to sustain a different intervention or that it did not have the means to respond to the situation.

To start with, because of our Party's initiative, the end of tuition fees, the reinforcement of School Social Action, the fight against precariousness and dismissals, the increase in the national minimum wage to 850 €, extra support for the movement of youth associations, housing support could have been approved. They were not adopted because PS, PSD, CDS, Chega, Liberal Initiative converged to prevent it.

But also because the government has the means to face the situation!

To the measures that, due to the struggle of the workers and the people and the action of the PCP, were approved in recent years, among which we would highlight the free school manuals, the reduction of the prices of transport passes and the extension of their range, the end of the exams in the 9th. year, or the increase, albeit limited, of the National Minimum Wage, the government can add the set of measures adopted in the State Budget for 2021, namely, to reinforce the National Health Service.

The government only does not respond because that is not its option. It has the means. What it lacks is the will. It responds to the concrete problems with the successes of the Presidency of the European Union, which adds nothing to the life of the Portuguese people. When we ask it about what it could do in the European Union to uphold Portugal's interests, it looks away and speaks of solidarity, for example, while pharmaceutical companies fatten at the cost of vaccines for Covid-19.

But if the solution is not in the same old options of the right-wing policy by PS, neither is it in the reactionary projects of PSD, CDS, to which its surrogates Chega and Liberal Initiative, give a more unabashed voice. The solution lies in a different policy, a different course, the patriotic and left-wing policy that we have been proposing to the people and youth.

A situation to which the youth responded with a thousand struggles, of which you speak in the motto, which we salute from here. We salute the young people who on March 25 marked National Youth Day, demanding an end to precariousness and calling for better wages and conditions. We salute the thousands of students who, on April 28, in various universities of the country, mobilised against tuition fees and for better school social action. We salute the hundreds of Secondary School students who this week mobilised in Barreiro for better conditions. We salute all those who gave to the celebrations of the 25th of April, the May Day struggle and the National Demonstration of May 8, in Porto, called by CGTP-IN, an impressive youth attendance, contributing to its remarkable success, with joy, with combativeness, with determination.

In recent years, the youth has proven, as stated in the Political Resolution that you have just adopted, its “own characteristics and a heterogeneous and constantly changing composition, with creativity, joy and confidence”, incorporating “values of solidarity, commitment, capacity of organisation and participation”.

This is evident in the organisation and struggle regarding their rights and interests, for the materialisation of their dreams and aspirations. And it was also well expressed in the significant youth mobilisations against all types of discrimination and in defence of the environment.

As is also expressed in the Political Resolution, “aware of the revolutionary potential of youth, capital looks at no means to try to curb and deflect their consequent and organised struggle, either by fostering false solutions, or by appealing to conformism, by distorting their feelings or by the instrumentalization of the youth movement”.

What surfaced in this Congress was the determination of the young communists to do everything to bolster this mobilisation and struggle on each of the problems and causes that the youth embrace as their own. To do so in broad unity and in close connection with all expressions of the youth movement.

The JCP, Youth of the CP, has had since its origin very particular characteristics. It is a Party organisation, although it has guaranteed its autonomy. But it is also an integral part of the Portuguese youth movement, and does not shy away from assuming high responsibilities, namely in the National Youth Council, and there it seeks to defend and disseminate the values of April and the communist project. It has its own organisation, its functioning based on democratic centralism, its ideology, Marxism-Leninism, its style of intervention and its party discipline, but it is a structure widely open to the participation of many other young people, who find in it the space of freedom and intervention to fight injustices.
And it is these characteristics that, to a large extent, assure its strength. JCP, Youth of the CP, heir to the heritage of communist and youth organisations that our Party has always promoted, since the Federation of Portuguese Communist Youths of which Comrade Álvaro Cunhal was General Secretary, has been able to face the anti-communist offensives that fall on it, to hit the Party.

The lies, slander, distortions, prejudices that pour in giant doses on the youth, aim to attack the utopia and the dream, the most beautiful ideal, the most humanist project that over the last hundred years had their bearer in Portugal, in the PCP.

They can throw all their fraudulent stigmatizing guidebooks on us, that it will not erase the path of 100 years dedicated to the most beautiful, most exalting, most modern values that the history of mankind knows.

They can throw at us all the labels, but this does not erase that there is no progress or achievement, in terms of social and economic rights, in terms of freedoms, in the cultural sphere, that have not had the intervention or the direct contribution of the PCP.

They can try to muddy the flag that we proudly raised 100 years ago, and that on last March 6 filled the streets and squares of our country, and they will not be able to talk about freedom, democracy, rights, fighting discrimination, injustices, without mentioning the Portuguese Communist Party.

The 12th. Congress of the JCP is also a good way to celebrate our Party's centenary. Because it contains what is most beautiful in youth, the vivid flame of the Revolution. What is stated here is that you are not able to ignore tyranny, forget exploitation, tolerate discrimination, accept attacks on the environment.

Your communications show that you are not willing to turn your face away from the fight, to lower your arms or to give up on dreams. You know that to resist is already to win, and here an unwavering willingness to resist was well manifested.

It was always this attitude that guided our action, our intervention, and our struggle. Always with the workers, always with the people, always with the youthful masses, however hard the times were, however demanding the battles, however uncertain the results, we lived these 100 years raising high the most beautiful ideal, the communist ideal.

Affirming the identification of the PCP with the dreams, claims and aspirations of the youth, their ideals of freedom, justice, peace, solidarity, and fraternity, and which make the PCP the Party of youth. A reality that is expressed, always with the youth and the youth movement, in the activity of communist youth organisations throughout their history, today led by JCP – Portuguese Communist Youth.

In fulfilling its 100 years of struggle, the PCP is, in our Country, the Party with the longest history. But it is also the youngest Portuguese party. No other reveals, like the PCP, the same strength, the same energy to intervene and fight for the transformation of Portuguese society.

No other has more creative, vigorous, coherent and effective solutions to national problems that better identify with the interests and aspirations of the youth.

No other is capable of such joy, optimism and confidence in the future. No other places the interests of the workers, the people and the country above everything else.

No other fights for the construction of a new society without the exploitation of Man by Man, a society in which everyone is guaranteed the right to work, healthcare, education, housing, social protection and retirement, and in which all inequalities, injustices, discrimination and social scourges, are banned, the socialist society

This Congress is indeed a good way to affirm that the Future has a Party.

The proceedings of your 12th. Congress are coming to an end. But we can say that its impact, its consequences, the dynamics that emanate from it, have only just begun.

The comrade delegates elected the National Directorate, which we warmly welcome, assured that they will be able to find the best answers in the revolutionary work that lies ahead to face the many demands that are immediately before us.

The National Directorate which does not include dozens of comrades who, still active in the life of the organisation, now give place to others. This is the life of a youth organisation where, every day and particularly during the last few months, so many and so committed new comrades appear. Some of these comrades will assume responsibility for the Party's work. While we say that you are welcome, since the demands of the Party's work are great and the confidence that we place in the JCP cadres is not less, we also affirm that here we can count on many others who will follow them.

The National Directorate has work ahead that I would like to place on three aspects.

First and foremost, the concrete tasks, the dynamization of youth mobilisation and struggle around their interests, the preparation of the Avante! Festival, also as a space of freedom and youth participation, like no other in our country, in all its multiple dimensions of construction, programming, promotion and sale of EP – Entry Pass; the local elections for which it is necessary to ensure tens of thousands of supports to affirm the programme of Work, Honesty and Competence, that converges around CDU many democrats interested in finding a future of confidence for their lands; the celebrations for the Centenary of our Party that will continue until March 6, 2022, and many, many other tasks that, every day, get in the way.

Secondly, the strengthening of the organisation of the JCP, in its specific characteristics. An organisation based on the school and workplace collectives, here in close articulation with the Party's company cells. An organisation to intervene, to answer the problems to affirm the communist project and ideal. Organise - Transform, as your motto points out.

But a flexible, creative organisation, without routines and patterns, capable of responding to young people's tastes, interests, and willingness to intervene. May it be able, as it has shown over the past year, to continue to take into account the ways of the youth, in a time of very rapid changes, so that it can continue to assert itself as their vanguard. An organisation that must be more self-sufficient on the material level, for which it must carry out more initiatives of fund raising.

And finally, in terms of the development of a broad unity with the youth masses. Today, thousands of young people are generously involved in sporting, cultural, recreational and social activities.

Because they are alone, because they lack the framework for debate and collective action with young communists, they are more permeable to the political and ideological offensive of capital, which, as we know, crosses all sectors and uses all means to achieve its ends, from television to music, from films to the contents of school programmes, in labour relations, to action in schools, promoting individualism and each one for himself and ostracising the struggle and collective action.
It is up to the action of the young communists, through their participation also in the Student Associations, in the Youth Association Movement, in the Unitary Trade Union Movement, there, where the young people are, in close connection with them, trusting their opinions and capabilities, bringing them to our side, making them see that their contribution for a better world, which seems small, is greater if inserted into the broader struggle, gaining new strength and dimension.

I finish as I started. What a beautiful congress this is! What a beautiful way to celebrate 100 years of the Portuguese Communist Party! Is it going to be easy? No way! But the combats that we will have to fight is what will give us the revolutionary steel to achieve the audacious goal of liberating workers and peoples from exploitation and oppression with that conviction that defeats do not discourage us, and victories do not let us rest.

I am certain that I represent the feeling of the Party Collective, by conveying to you that we leave from here with increased confidence, with new energies, and certain that we can count on the Young Communists to affirm that the communist ideal has a future, and that the Future has a Party.