Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary of the PCP, Rally «PCP – Decisive force. By your side, every day»

«We could ask: how do the answers that the workers and the people demand contribute to the alleged crisis?»

Greetings to all of you and through you to the workers and people of Porto and this whole Region.

Greetings also and our appreciation to all our friends of the Ecologist Party «The Greens», of the Democratic Intervention, to the thousands of independents and activists of the CDU who were side by side with us in the recent electoral combat for Local Government which we fought together, creating a great campaign of contact with the populations.

This was yet another combat among the many we have on hand to serve the workers and our people. A combat during which we had to face a set of adverse factors, in a particularly demanding context. A combat which we fought with very unequal weapons and which we overcame thanks to the enormous effort, dedication and commitment of thousands of activists and candidates.
And, if in this combat we do not conceal or underestimate losses, we cannot fail to notice that the results obtained by the CDU continue to confirm our Coalition as the great left-wing force in Local Government.

The obtention of about 451 thousand votes and 9.1% of the national total, the election of more than two thousand direct mandates and hundreds of other indirect ones, are not only the expression of this national dimension of the CDU's vote, but they are also the confirmation of this great force that the CDU is and continues to be in the country's local government!

These are mandates that call for the indispensable commitment and contribution of the elected members of the PCP and the CDU, whether to pursue the implementation of the distinctive CDU project in places where we are in majority, or to intervene in the construction of solutions and proposals in all circumstances, or to give a voice to the interests of the populations, or to ensure rigour and transparency in the functioning of the local government.

One thing everyone can be sure of, the support now gathered by the CDU in these elections will be fully put at the service of the populations!
Yes, we waged this electoral battle in a difficult context and facing powerful economic and political forces that have at their disposal powerful centres with instruments of ideological domination and political influence where prejudice is produced and propagated and is built and spread a stereotype of forces, such as the PCP, which oppose their domination and based on lies and falsehood.

But there is no campaign, however insidious it may be that restrains us in our determination and will to serve the workers, the people and the country.

Following the elections, the need to respond to the country's problems is now more pressing.

To respond to the problems that result from decades of right-wing policies, where important structural deficits are present, the heightening of exploitation, injustices and inequalities in society and country and those that stem from the epidemic and the use that large economic interests made and make of it.

Problems that need a response that the PS government, submitted to such interests and to the impositions of the European Union, does not give, by maintaining the main lines of the same policy that, in turn, it carried out with PSD and CDS for years, jeopardising the development of the country.

Response to a reality marked by low wages and pensions, structurally high unemployment, operations of collective dismissals, precariousness, rising cost of living - energy, food, housing -, destruction and depletion of the productive apparatus and deindustrialisation, due to the weaknesses of micro , small and medium-sized companies and clear yielding to the interests of economic groups such as GALP, Novo Banco, EDP, CTT or ANA Aeroportos.
Yes, the country's situation demands a range of responses and options that correspond to the dimension of the problems at hand.

Portugal needs other options and an alternative path capable of solving accumulated problems and to embark on a course of economic and social development, overcoming the issues that mark the lives of the workers, the people and the country.

The debate on the State Budget for 2022 that is there must be part of this global response, which is as necessary as it is pressing. The Budget has its own value, but it must be an expression of these options.

In the recent past, with the decisive intervention of the PCP, it was possible to ease difficulties with the implementation of measures of restoration, defence and achievement of rights and stop the path of national disaster that the country had been following, enhanced by the Pact of troikas that PSD and CDS persevered to implement, under the fallacious pretext that the “country lived beyond its possibilities.”

It was the time of "oh yes, they can handle it" made popular by the bankers' spokesperson, where every day there was always a painful measure targeted against the living conditions of the workers, pensioners, from the most diverse popular strata and that the struggle and the initiative of the PCP overcame.

In fact, in these last few years, the PCP has been decisive in restoring, defending and achieving rights. A period in which even with the known submission of the PS to options that determine its policy, the balance of forces made these advances possible.

Advances and achievements of undeniable value but which were not enough to invert essential aspects of national policy and, due to PS’s resistance, to tackle the country's structural problems.

It is this path that needs to be followed and this is the answer that must be adopted.

In 2021, given the impacts of the epidemic, the PCP was decisive in ensuring a response that was aimed at protecting rights, guaranteeing the right to healthcare and social support to those who needed them, especially after the 2020 Supplementary Budget followed a different course.

With the epidemic, old and new problems accumulated, some old ones in an aggravated way that not only heightened the country's weaknesses, but also increased the difficulties in the lives of millions of workers and retired people. The problems faced by most families in accessing housing and caring for their children grew on a different scale. The weaknesses and difficulties of public services were accentuated, with particular evidence in the NHS. The precariousness and instability of entire sectors, such as culture, were laid bare even more. Certain economic activities, where micro and small entrepreneurs predominate, are now facing increased difficulties to keep their activities alive.

The economic and financial groups and multinationals are taking advantage of the situation to obtain additional gains from it, imposing their projects to maximize exploitation in a freewheel, setting aside national and workers’ interests, destroying jobs, but also those of the populations with their pricing policy, as in the case of energy.

A country that was left at the mercy of such interests to whom companies and strategic and essential sectors for national production and development were handed, determining the transport, telecommunications or credit policies, among others, in our country.

The response that had to be found to face the consequences of the epidemic also made more visible the need to face the problems clearly, going to their roots and tackling their causes and not just taking this or that measure here or there in a positive sense, without solving the underlying problems.

This path cannot be postponed. After the epidemic, when large financial resources are announced, it is necessary to respond to the situation.

The State Budget for 2022 should be part of this general path of response to the problems. Not only does the Budget not do so, but it does not show signs of wanting to follow this path.

The State Budget proposal is far from being part, important but not the only one, of this path that the country needs.

It is a Budget proposal that is based on a policy perspective that does not assume the increase in wages as a national emergency, which in terms of labour legislation and rights chooses not to face big capital and unprotects workers.

It is a proposal which leaves hundreds of thousands of pensioners who have paid more for Social Security without seeing their purchasing power restored or those who worked for more than 40 years with cuts in their pensions.

It is a proposal that does not stand on the side of stability in the right to housing.

A proposal that leaves no signs of restoration or solid defence of sectors such as postal services, energy, transport or telecommunications.

In the SB proposal we do not find the necessary and decisive response to strengthen public services, starting with the NHS, in particular the commitment to an expressive and urgent valorisation of its professionals' careers and salaries to guarantee their bond and encourage full dedication. Without this there will be fewer medical appointments and tests, update of surgeries or family doctors and nurses for everyone.

In tax matters, it is a proposal that does not meet the objectives of a progressive tax cut on lower and intermediate income from work and indirect taxes and does not seriously affront large profits and assets, delaying fiscal justice and depriving the State of billions of euros in revenue.

It is a proposal that lacks an answer to the problems of energy and its costs, either through VAT or through price control and regulation.

The right to free nurseries for all children, including measures to create a public network for that purpose, is not assumed as an objective

What can be seen in this Budget proposal in various areas are marginal responses, determined and conditioned by the dogmas of the Budgetary Treaty that the PS maintains as its own, with its anachronistic criteria regarding the deficit and debt, far from the needs of a country like ours and that the government maintains in this Budget, with an emphasis on the deficit, as a major conditioning of the response that the country needs.

It is the submission of such criteria, made into dogma, even when they are suspended as in the present, that the recurrent rhetoric of the policy of "balanced accounts" is based, which the PS insists on keeping alive to justify the postponement of the solution to the country's problems, but that are never invoked when it comes to covering up the excesses and ruinous deals of big capital and banking, or to cut short the fiscal engineering manoeuvres and the tax evasion of the great lords of money.

Look at what happens with the transfer to offshores. There is no money for salaries, but it goes out to tax havens in billions every year. In 2020, the year of the epidemic, it amounted to 6.8 billion euros and with it a significant amount of tax revenue. For these the accounts are always right!
The so-called “balanced accounts” policy, which is nothing more than a disguise to support restrictive budget policies, falsely based on the general interest, but effectively aimed at favouring the businesses that big capital puts on the table of the State Budget.

On this subject, what goes on in healthcare is illustrative, where the share of money redirected to the private sector, particularly to the healthcare multinationals, is increasingly higher, to the detriment of the NHS, because there is no investment where it is necessary, in own human and technical resources.

A policy that gradually materialises the old aspiration of the forces of capital that want to impose - even when they shed tears of hypocrisy for the NHS - the policy of “those who want health have to pay for it”! Or whoever wants a pension, gets insurance!
A policy designed to ensure that “even if governments change, policies do not change,” always serving the same interests.

It is not the general interests that have imposed for more than ten years a practical freeze on salaries in the Public Administration, nor the meagre public investment of the last two decades, in this country with serious structural deficits and lack of infrastructure.

Yes, the intention is to guarantee “balanced accounts” with the European Union of monopolies and the resolution of the country's problems has been postponed indefinitely.

The people and the country need a response that tackles the problems and needs they face, mobilising all the possibilities that exist today.

In the current situation, considering the government's resistance so far in assuming commitments on important matters beyond the Budget and also in the content of the Budget proposal that is being presented, it has our opposition now, with the PCP voting against.

Until its overall vote, there is still time to find solutions. There is still time to find out if the PS and the government definitively refuse the commitments that allow signalling the path of response that the country and the lives of workers and people demand and the solutions that in the Budget and beyond it must be implemented.

The dimension of the country's problems and the solutions that correspond to them cannot be solved with dramatizations or with increasing difficulties about the future, as one would have us believe.

Again, what is needed are solutions and answers.

No invocations of political crises.

We could ask. How do the answers that workers and people are demanding contribute to this alleged crisis?

Are wage and pension increase factors of political crisis?

Does guaranteeing free nurseries for all children add to the crisis in the country and in the lives of families?

Strengthening the NHS, investing in the valorisation of careers and fixing its professionals in the NHS, an indispensable condition for increasing medical appointments, tests, surgeries, family doctors and nurses for all, is it contributing to the crisis?

Ensuring that you have the right to affordable housing and with leases that ensure stability has anything to do with a political crisis?

Is ensuring extra increases in pensions for all pensioners promoting a crisis?

On the contrary! Giving the answers that are necessary and possible to what the country, the workers and the people need is a factor of stability, stability in the life of the Portuguese, in companies and the country and, above all, a condition for raising living standards and national development

An economy growth of 5.4% is announced. Billions of EU funds are being trumpeted. There are no reasons not to respond to what the country needs.

If there is growth, that growth needs to be translated into more means to respond to the problems that are in plain view. Growth cannot be invoked in vain. The valorisation of the wages of all workers, the increase in the minimum wage to 850 euros, the restoration of the purchasing power of pensioners are themselves a stimulus to economic growth.

The defence of workers' rights against the instruments of exploitation that the big employers find in labour legislation, from the outset the expiry collective bargaining, this is a factor of stability, valorisation of production and economic growth.

Give stability to people's lives instead of stirring up pre-announced crises.

What the workers and the people will not realize is that if there are means and possibilities to respond to what is required, this is denied in the name of the deficit and protection of the interests of big capital.

The path to effective economic growth and development, inseparable from raising the living conditions of the workers and people, requires, rather, measures and policy options that, in the State Budget and beyond it, create the conditions for the country to be endowed with instruments of sovereignty to ensure them.

The PCP will not fail to intervene to guarantee solutions that incorporate this different path of consideration and response to national problems, an indispensable path for the life of the country.

It will do so with its usual independence, refusing all pressures, not feeding or conditioning itself by false dramatizations, rejecting readings beyond those that are the answers it deems necessary for the country and determined by its commitment to the workers and the people.

Just as it will not give up struggling for other options that the national situation demands: the recovery of public control of strategic sectors and companies; the diversification of economic activity, halting deindustrialization and promoting the replacement of imports by national production; the fight against environmental degradation, with the promotion of public transport, local and national production, the defence of public water supply, the promotion of energy sovereignty and efficiency.

Yes, the PCP will not give up struggling for the materialisation of a patriotic and left-wing policy and with it give a clear response to the structural problems that mark our collective life!

The situation we live in demands a strong political initiative from this necessary and irreplaceable Party to uphold the interests of the workers and the people, namely in the affirmation of the alternative, in the development of the mass struggle, in the launching of a new mandate in local government, fulfilling the local government project based on work, honesty and competence at the service of the populations and the implementation of a set of lines of work to begin immediately, including the continuation of the national production roadmap, the defence of workers' rights and public services, in particular the NHS and Public Schools, the implementation of the PCP’s centenary commemorations plan and the launch of the commemorations of the centenary of José Saramago's birth.

We are a Party that the workers, the people and the country need to be stronger and more influential, which requires implementing the guidelines of the XXI Congress, paying attention, among other aspects, to strengthening the organisation and intervention with the working class and workers , the National Recruitment Campaign “The Future has a Party”, as well as the strengthening of local leadership bodies and funding work.

We have a Party that is steadfast in its ideal. A Party that affirms and reaffirms its communist nature and identity in the materialisation of a patriotic and left-wing policy, for an advanced democracy, for a new society, free from exploitation and oppression - socialism and communism.

A Party that here, once again, reaffirms its everlasting commitment to the workers and the people and its firm willingness to continue to overcome difficulties and hurdles, fighting, every day, on all fronts, for the construction of a Portugal with Future!