Why we hold the «Avante!» Festival

Why we hold the «Avante!» Festival

Articulating at every step with the relevant authorities and assessing the evolution of the epidemiological situation, the PCP will hold the “Avante!” Festival with the responsibility for which it is renowned, with an educational approach to the prevention and protection which continues to be necessary, and ensuring all the necessary sanitary measures.

Holding the “Avante!” Festival is, in these circumstances, a great assertion of stimulus to activity, culture, art, sport, socializing, leisure, political intervention, solidarity, enjoyment of life – all of which are today essential for the health and well-being of the population.

Failing to hold the Festival just because a campaign of mystification was launched against it, instrumentalizing real and natural causes of concern – and which have become all the greater due to reasons that are well-known - would be yielding to a reactionary offensive that, if successful, would soon lead to other levels of limitation of freedom and rights. Also in these circumstances, holding the Festival is to affirm and keep ajar the doors that [the] April [Revolution] opened up.

?«The PCP enjoys a regime of exception? Other festivals are not held»?

The PCP has already proved that it can organise safe events. Others have chosen not to do so, even though they can. The law that is being invoked, regarding the prohibition of summer festivals (https://dre.pt/application/conteudo/134762426), clearly states that festivals can be held so long as the sanitary rules are articulated with the DGS [Directorate General of Health] and complied with. Several cultural events are already taking place this Summer: the outdoor jazz festival in Leiria, the Summer Garden at Gulbenkian, the Belém Cultural Centre (CCB) programme, "Palace Nights" in Porto, among many others.

The decision to ban Summer Festivals [that did not apply health rules in articulation with DGS] was a decision taken in accordance with the specific interests of their promotors, in order to confront specific issues which they identified.

There is no exception for the PCP, moreover because political activity is not suspended. The President of the Republic himself stated that “if a promoting entity qualifies an initiative as political, religious or social, even if from another perspective it could be seen as a festival or similar event, the specific prohibition in the present legal document will no longer apply” (https://jornaleconomico.sapo.pt/noticias/proibicao-de-festivais-ate-30-d...).

?«For the PCP, money is more important than the health of the Portuguese»?

The “Avante!” Festival is a great political and cultural event, a defining moment for the affirmation of the PCP, its project and ideals. And it is above all a meeting point with the collective socializing of workers and people, with their culture, their problems and aspirations. The “Avante!” Festival is undeniably the Festival of April and of the people, held with the aim of strengthening their struggle and their rights, as has been evidenced by its 43 previous editions. At this point in national life, it is particularly important to project the life, struggle and resistance of the Portuguese people. Only those who do not know the Festival and the PCP can depict its holding and the attitude of the PCP as being based on financial goals.

?«The PCP insists on holding the Avante! Festival just because»?

When some are entitled to organize parties [for the ‘elites’] in Quinta do Lago or Comporta, working people are herded into overflowing transports to go work. But only if they are going to work. For the PCP, leisure, socializing and culture cannot be privileges, they must be available for all. And it is possible to do so in safety. For the PCP, the workers who catch an overflowing bus at 6 a.m., workers under lay-off [furlough] schemes, those who have been dismissed, those who have seen their activity come to a halt since February and have no income - all are entitled to have rights. For the PCP, there is a pressing need to guarantee decent wages in full to those who work, defend the right to housing, defend the NHS for all, the right to culture and leisure. It is in defence of all these rights that we propose to hold the People's Festival, the “Avante!” Festival.

?«Is the PCP an irresponsible party.»?

The Portuguese people know that they can rely on the PCP and its sense of responsibility at all times in history. It is not irresponsible to hold the “Avante!” Festival with all the sanitary rules having been articulated with the competent authorities. What is irresponsible is to force thousands of working people onto overflowing public transportation, it is the lack of sanitary conditions in many workplaces all over the country, it is the precarious housing that many families are forced to live in. Irresponsible are the decades-long attacks against the NHS. Irresponsibility is to throw sand into people's eyes and not solve their real problems. It is also to defend working people that the “Avante!” Festival must be held.

What reasons does the PCP have for talking about an attack on the Avante! Festival?

The attack on the Festival is one expression of the reactionary forces' long-standing aim: to call into question the exercise of political rights and more particularly the activity of the PCP and of trade unions. The attacks on the Festival have been going on since the very first edition, in 1976, at the time by a bomb attack. They have continued throught the years, with the various attempts to prevent it by raising all sorts of obstacles to conceding the grounds for the Festival. And it has continued until today, with the campaigns of disinformation and slander targeting different aspects of it.

The campaign against the Festival, now under the guise of Covid-19, is just a more visible moment of that overall aim, as were [the campaigns against] the celebrations of the 25th of April, the May Day events, or the PCP’s rally in [Lisbon’s] Edward VII Park.