Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary

Opening of the XXI Congress of the PCP

Opening of the XXI Congress of the PCP

First and foremost, I would like to greet the delegates to the XXI Congress who are here representing our entire party collective and wish them well in their work.

We are holding our Congress in a very different context from what is usual, as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic.

We do not have with us, as we would like and would very much like, the vast group of foreign delegations from sister parties and other progressive forces from around the world, nor national guests, from the various institutions and organisations, who have always honoured us with their presence. We do not have here either, and that is for all of us very sad, the many hundreds of invited comrades who always accompany us in this moment of great significance and importance for our Party, but we want it to be for the workers, for the people and for the country, because what brings us here and brings us together are their problems and the solutions to overcome them. Problems whose solution takes on a particular urgency in the current situation.

We are here today with fewer delegates, about half of what was expected and we had to take all health protection measures. Our Congress will show once again that the holding of activities is compatible with health prevention.

A Congress that is a proof of the responsibility of a Party that does not turn its back to problems, nor hide itself, when workers face difficulties.
The Congress of a Party that is not given to privilege and selfishness to protect itself, while hundreds of thousands of workers will be at their workplaces every day, resisting the intensification of exploitation with the excuse of the epidemic and have to use public transport in the current conditions.

Yes, we have taken health prevention measures to safely guarantee the holding of our Congress, just as we have taken them during the process of its preparation.

Yes, because the Congress does not begin here, it culminates here and despite the constraints, the difficulties resulting from the epidemic, the Party knew how to find solutions to get involved and participate in the proposed decisions that will be debated and voted. Proof of this is the holding of 1 700 meetings in the preparatory phase, with around 18 000 participants.

A Party that, even in difficult circumstances, does not waive debating and intervening to find the best solutions for the country and contribute to the desirable normal functioning of democratic life.

And this issue is not a minor issue and becomes an issue of the utmost importance when we see representatives of the right-wing forces of regression, retreat and authoritarianism downplaying and putting fundamental political and civic rights on the same level as other momentarily limited rights, to justify their slick campaigns against our Congress and the workers' struggle.

There are already too many precedents around the world, which fall under what is called a “pandemic setback”. They are measures to hinder the protest and to prohibit the social and labour struggle, to limit liberties and civil rights, there are increasing muscular measures with artificial justifications, the abuses of power, the reinforcement of control, the demonstrations of strength to demobilise and intimidate, but also to repress and that riding on the back of the pandemic are undermining democracy.

Once again we reaffirm that we do not accept the depreciation and devaluation of political activity and even less in these times, because we know how it all starts, but we do not know how it ends and often ends badly for peoples' rights and interests and so often for democracy and freedom.

We are holding our Congress in a time of the celebration of 100 years of existence of this Portuguese Communist Party. Allow me here, in this very important event of party life, to summon and evoke the generous militancy of the generations that preceded us and brought us the Party here.

This party that faced fascist violence. That in all times and circumstances has assumed all major causes and all combats against exploitation, oppression and inequality. That was in the making of the April Revolution and in the forefront of its achievements and in their defence. That was always present, like no other, in these last 100 years, in the moments of resistance, transformation and advancement in Portuguese society and always acting determined to advance the wheel of history towards progress, freedom, democracy and socialism.

A Party with a unique history. A history that tells us that the future has a Party!

The world is living in troubled times. Instability and uncertainty continue to characterise the evolution of the international situation, which has, in broad terms, worsened in the last four years.

The deepening of the structural crisis of capitalism, which is expressed on multiple levels - economic, social, political, cultural or environmental - continues to mark developments in the international situation, exposing the profound and irreconcilable contradictions of capitalism and confirming its exploitative, oppressive, aggressive and predatory nature.

Embroiled in the cycle of crisis, big capital promotes an even greater concentration and centralisation of wealth at the expense of intensification of exploitation, with the resulting and brutal worsening of social inequalities and a spiral of greed of public resources for monopoly groups, particularly from the financial sector.

In a situation where a new explosion of crisis was in the offing, the Covid-19 pandemic is being used by big capital to increase exploitation, question rights and attack freedoms.

If, as a result of the deepening of the crisis, the contradictions between the imperialist powers have been enhanced, at the same time, they have not failed to converge in their class offensive against the rights of workers and the sovereignty of peoples.

In view of the problems it faces and its relative decline - highlighted by the process of rearrangement of forces that is taking place worldwide - the United States of America exercises its supremacy in the imperialist camp and drags its allies into its escalation of confrontation and aggression at the international level.

A reality that is not called into question by the election of Joe Biden as President, who has already ensured that he will pursue a foreign policy that reaffirms the objective of imposing US hegemonic domination worldwide.

US imperialism, with its allies - especially NATO and the European Union - increases a multifaceted and dangerous escalation of confrontation, interference and aggression that constitutes a serious threat to peoples and peace, which holds the danger of triggering major conflicts, including nuclear ones.

An escalation that, directed against all those who assert their sovereignty and the right to development, points out as strategic targets Russia and, particularly, China, in view of the development and role of this country at the international level.

The four years that went by since the XX Congress testify that imperialism's interference and aggression against the rights of the workers and peoples, against democracy, sovereignty and the independence of States, against the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law continues all over the world.

If imperialism spares no means - from the economic, financial and political tools it dominates, to its military might and ideological influence - to counter the deepening structural crisis of capitalism, as well as to safeguard its domination, the workers' struggle also persists and of peoples in defence of their rights, in defence of sovereignty, which in its diversity knows expressions of great importance.

A struggle that develops in the most different conditions, adopting different forms and pointing out diverse concrete and immediate objectives.
Struggles that express discontent in the face of worsening exploitation, social injustices and inequalities, oppression, as well as resistance against interference and aggression.

Struggles that, despite taking place in an unfavourable context at the global level, achieve important successes and victories, as in Syria or Venezuela, or even in Bolivia and Chile.

Struggles that show that «great dangers of social and civilizational regression coexist with real potential for progressive and revolutionary advances» and the need to be prepared for rapid and unforeseen developments and, therefore, for the recourse to forms of struggle that the evolution of the situation may call for.

The reality shows the need for a strong and vigorous international communist and revolutionary movement, which is an expression of the existence of strong communist and revolutionary parties, which requires determination and persistence to overcome existing weaknesses and difficulties.

The structural crisis of capitalism and the violent offensive of imperialism also pose the need to strengthen a broad anti-imperialist front, which hampers imperialism's offensive and paves the way for the construction of a new international order, of peace, sovereignty and social progress.

The scourges of war, oppression, unemployment and precariousness, hunger, disease, illiteracy and other social wounds, portray the inhuman and criminal character of capitalism.

Capitalism is not the terminal system of the history of Humanity. The construction of a new society free from all forms of exploitation and oppression is a demand of today and of the future.

Yes, socialism is a necessity of our time. The exacerbation of capitalism's contradictions, the worsening of social inequalities and scourges, its inability to respond to the problems and aspirations of Humanity despite the extraordinary potential of scientific and technical development, pose the need for its revolutionary overcoming, for the development of processes that point to socialism as an objective, with the phases and stages according to the concrete situation of each country.

It is from the concrete reality of Portugal and its experience of struggle that the PCP points the way to socialism and the fundamental characteristics of socialist society in Portugal, whose fundamental lines are defined in its Programme «An advanced democracy - the values of April in the future of Portugal ».

The right-wing policy of decades by governments of the PS, PSD and CDS and the integration of Portugal in the EEC and the European Union have been confirmed over the last few decades as central and complementary features of the counter-revolutionary process. They represent strategic lines of monopolistic restoration, of imposition of exploitation, of protection of the interests of big capital and of increasing external submission, which jeopardises national sovereignty and independence.

The European Union, and in particular the Economic and Monetary Union, represent some of the most serious hurdles to the country's development.
The capitalist integration in Europe proves to be a process that generates inequalities and asymmetries in economic development, central to the processes of concentration and centralisation of capital and the imposition of increased exploitation and social regression.

The nature of the European Union dictates that its policies serve, not the rights and desires of peoples and the equality of States, but the interests and needs of big business.

The reality of the deep crisis facing the European Union today proves that its development generates growing contradictions, tensions and rivalries. An example of this is the materialisation of the exit of the United Kingdom, which destroys the European Union's theories of irreversibility. In its succession of crises, the European Union has been increasingly revealing the fallacies of the speeches of solidarity and cooperation. Whether in the context of the economic crisis, in the way it dealt with and deals with the issues of migration and more recently in the context of COVID 19, the European Union confirms itself as a process in confrontation with the rights, aspirations and interests of the workers and peoples in Europe .

The scenes of piracy between member states of the European Union in the race for medical supplies, a complete inertia in boosting real solidarity, their role in the vaccine business, the nature of the blockages in relation to the Multiannual Financial Framework, the deceptions and delays of the so-called Recovery Fund, are recent and powerful examples of the real interests that the European Union promotes and protects in the headlong escape with which it reacts to each of its episodes of crisis.

Our national reality shows well the consequences of such neoliberal and federalist leaps. The consequences of the Euro at the national level are well known, and the reform of the Economic and Monetary Union has made the Euro even more limiting to economic and social development.

At the same time, the European Union continues to aim to establish itself and assert itself as an imperialist political-military bloc, assuming itself as the European pillar of NATO.

The evolution of the European Union and the manipulations around successive reinventions and make-ups of this structure, confirm that its political and ideological matrix does not allow space for “refoundations” and even less for “democratisations”.

Solutions that provide answers to the problems of Portugal and other countries will only be possible by breaking with the European Union's constraints, in the scope of the affirmation of national sovereignty.

The construction of the Europe we fight for requires reinforcing the struggle and awareness of the workers and peoples, changing the balance of forces in the states that constitute the EU, within a framework of cooperation among progressive and left-wing forces, with a prominent role for communists, affirming the sovereign right to the development of States, with the objective of breaking with the process of European capitalist integration.

It is within this framework that it will be possible to build a Europe of cooperation among sovereign and equal states in rights, for an effective social and economic development, of friendship and solidarity that paves the way for a Europe of workers and peoples, of social progress, of peace.

Portugal today faces increased problems to which it has become imperative and urgent to respond and which are at the heart of the concerns of our Congress.

These are problems in the most diverse fields of national life that have accumulated over the years and which, with the impacts of the epidemic, take on a disturbing dimension, demanding urgent solutions.

Urgently to attend to a social situation that deteriorates in an alarming way, to end the inclined plan of economic recession and paralysis that is underway in the Country and, necessarily, and simultaneously, to move decisively in the attack on the great national problems that did not find the answer that was necessary in the political options of the PS minority governments.

As shown by the draft of the Political Resolution, Portugal is faced with serious economic and social problems, with profound structural deficits that are at the root of the country's high external dependence, of the enormous weaknesses it presents.

At the economic level, the insufficient pace of growth is maintained, as are the long-standing weaknesses of the national productive apparatus, resulting from the impositions of the European Union, the domination of the economy by foreign capital and the resulting transfer and evasion of capital, from its increasing finantialization and the lack of public and productive investment.

Weaknesses that not only force the country to rely on the outside to satisfy basic needs, or to produce what it exports. Today the rate of coverage of imports by exports of goods is less than 80%.

This productive deficit is the direct consequence of the devaluing of agriculture, fisheries, the manufacturing industry and our national resources. But there are other worrying structural deficits, which include a significant impact on the economy, energy, technology and capital.

The high accumulated Foreign Debt that the country has is equally a reflection of these weaknesses, but also the result of financial speculation, public spending to cover bad management and corruption in banking and strategic companies and submission to a currency - the Euro - which is unsuitable to economic potential, wages, productivity and productive profile of the country.

The economic growth seen between 2016 and 2019 did not significantly change a situation that had long been disastrous. Not only did it not cancel out problems gathered over decades of right-wing policies by PS, PSD and CDS governments, but it did not prepare the country to resist a new shock.

Rather, they were worsened by a budgetary policy, which remained subject to the constraints imposed by the European Union, namely in the obsession with the speedy deficit reduction.

A policy that was unable due to lack of investment to ensure the replacement of equipment and infrastructure and to solve problems that have been going on for decades and that were laid bare in this period of time between congresses, in the dramatic forest fires of 2017 and 2018.

The causes of the cyclical crisis triggered in 2007/2008 remained and the Covid epidemic 19 only revealed and made our structural bottlenecks, deficits and dependencies more evident in this year 2020.

National production remains the central issue for the country's development. In combating the productive deficit and foreign debt, for employment and the rebalancing of the location of economic activity in the territory, to contain and reverse the high levels of external dependence.

This worrying national problem that has been deepened and extended to all areas of national life, accompanied by a growing process of capitalist concentration and monopoly domination, where the maintenance of high degrees of corruption is also evident, where promiscuity among public and private sectors stands out, as well as the increasing subordination of political power to economic power.

The reconfiguration of the banking system still underway in Portugal, with the absorption of smaller banks and the centralisation of commercial banking operations in a small group of banks under Spanish domination, is showing this.

In the commerce and distribution sector, the weight of large distribution and large electronic commerce platforms was heightened, continuing the process of absorption of small neighbourhood shops, enhancing their role of predation and capitalist accumulation.

Tourism, which has experienced significant growth in recent years, benefiting from favourable external factors and the country's conditions, with the epidemic, the flow of tourism from abroad, which represents close to 70% of the total, has been drastically cut. Thousands of workers and micro and small businesses see employment and their activity at risk.

Transport policy remains essentially determined by the interests of the economic groups that dominate the sector. A structural and strategic policy, aiming at strengthening the mobility of the population and territorial cohesion, still remains absent.

The importance of reducing fares in transport should be stressed; the integration of EMEF in CP Rail, but the integration of the railway infrastructure and the transport of goods remain absent.

At TAP, the consequences of the private management which would have wrecked the company were confirmed had it not been for the public intervention that took place in 2020. ANA, handed to Vinci disinvests and, with the support of the current Government, jeopardises the construction of the new airport at the Alcochete Shooting Range.

In the ports, the privatisation of operations continues, handed over to the multinationals.

In Telecommunications and Postal Services, liberalisation and privatisation continued. Successive PPPs harm the State in millions of euros and do not even guarantee the satisfaction of the needs to be met.

The privatisation of CTT postal service resulted in a marked deterioration in the postal service and in leaving dozens of places without post offices.

With an economic structure, where most companies and strategic sectors are today under the dominance of large foreign capital, Portugal has not only seen its dependence on the outside worsen. There is also an increase in the exploitation and impoverishment of large layers of workers, with the imposition and subsistence of a model of low wages, retirements and pensions, due to a growing precariousness of labour relations and the maintenance of high levels of unemployment.

A reality where great social injustices gather and where the profits and privileges of a few contrast with the deepening of social inequalities, the increase in poverty, the difficulties in accessing housing, day care centres or meeting the needs of the elderly.

The reality of workers goes far beyond precariousness, unemployment and low wages, unregulated working hours, degraded working conditions, discrimination, violation of individual and collective rights, obstruction of trade union action in the workplace, repression, destruction of collective bargaining, labour legislation to serve capital.

In Portugal, a great injustice persists in the distribution of income between labour and capital. Injustice that widens with the fiscal policy imposed on the country in recent decades. A policy marked by a trend of higher taxation on wages, lower and intermediate incomes compared to high-value income and assets.

The advances made in the defence, restoration and achievement of rights by workers, have restrained, albeit to a limited extent, the intensification of exploitation and impoverishment.

The PS Government, in convergence with PSD and CDS, ended up continuing to meet the interests of big capital, mainly in the amendments to the Labour Code in 2019, namely with the extension of the trial period and the extension of the limits for short term contracts insisting on legislation favourable to exploitation and precarious employment and without rights.

Meanwhile, under the excuse of the epidemic, thousands of workers have been dismissed and many more are at risk, wages are cut, working hours are changed and imposed by force, work rhythms are intensified, precariousness is promoted at the same time that colossal sums of public funds are handed over to economic and financial groups and multinationals that have accumulated billions of euros in profit.

The situation created by the epidemic laid bare the use that big capital sought to make of it.

The persistence of great territorial imbalances, the environmental deterioration, together with the undermining of public services and the degradation and subversion of the democratic regime embodied in the Constitution of the Republic, are many other problems that the country faces and that do not find the necessary answer with the options and policies in the governance of recent years and of the current government.

Territorial imbalances have deepened, despite successive programmes and renaming of the State structure - Mission Structure, Junior Ministry, Ministry - to respond to them. The continuous depopulation of vast regions and the infrastructural shortcomings in the densest areas, prove this.

In the environmental area, pressure to commodify natural resources has prevented the development of a true policy to defend the balance of Nature. Environmental policies, management of natural resources and territorial planning are based on submission to the interests of monopoly groups.

The transfer of the burden of environmental problems to the individual seeks to hide responsibilities of the capitalist mode of production in the environmental degradation.

In terms of water supply, the strategy of commodification and privatisation continued, preparing the handing of water collection and distribution, as well as the collection and treatment of waste water to private companies.

The right-wing policy led the State and Public Administration to a situation of extreme weakness, where the neoliberal vision of the "minimum state" prevailed. The depletion of human and material resources of public services has undermined the functions of the Public Administration in the most diverse aspects and with particular gravity in the social functions of the State, firstly the public healthcare services and public procurement.

These last four years that separate us from the XX Congress, have continued to be characterised by the struggle between those who defend that it is up to the State to ensure the full right to Healthcare through a National Health Service, universal, general and free and those who see Healthcare as a highly profitable and coveted business area.

Economic groups linked to Health and right-wing political parties carried out action to devalue and erode the NHS, with the aim of destroying it. In government, these parties have promoted chronic under-financing which is still far from being reversed today.

But as life has been confirming, only the existence of a Public Service with the characteristics and nature of the NHS can ensure everyone access to healthcare, regardless of their social and economic conditions.

The PS Government's insistence on maintaining, renewing and creating new PPPs, contrary to the path outlined in the new Basic Law on Health, adopted in July 2019, deepens the path of privatisation of healthcare.

The question facing the country and the Portuguese is the choice between strengthening the NHS to guarantee the constitutionally enshrined right to healthcare or its weakening and of its structures, insisting on promiscuity between the public and the private, channelling funds from it to increase the profits and power of monopoly healthcare groups.

In Education, the State's lack of responsibility in relation to the valorisation of the Public School, financially asphyxiated at all levels of education and the continuation of an undisguised elitisation of education and teaching have continued.

The structural problems that mark the Public Education System remain, as does the policy of weakening the National Scientific and Technological System.
The struggle and PCP’s own initiative forced the cancelation of some of the measures implemented by the previous PSD/CDS Government and allowed, still, some advances, as are the case of the end of the national exams of the 4th. and 6th.years and free school textbooks in compulsory education.

The high cost for families, despite some reduction in the value of tuition fees of university degrees, continues to constitute a great hurdle for the democratisation of Higher Education, aggravated by the lack of response from School Social Action.

The public Social Security system has also been subject, over the years, to an offensive at the political and ideological level.

Social Security rights have been heavily attacked by PSD, CDS and PS. They changed the pension system for the worse, transferred the costs of private pension funds to the system, introduced the sustainability factor and increased the retirement age that has to be reversed.

Well patent continues the insufficiency of the Network of Social Services and Equipment and the social responses of support to children, youth, the elderly and people with disabilities, today essentially dependent on the complementary role, not less important, of the IPSS [Private Institutions of Social Solidarity] in the different areas.

The epidemic brought to light the multiple weaknesses and shortcomings of nursing homes, the insufficiencies of monitoring and inspection services under the tutelage of Social Security and making the creation of a national public network and a qualitative change in the tutelage action urgent.

In terms of housing, despite the mitigation of the most harmful effects of the eviction legislation, and the adoption of the Basic Law on Housing, for which the PCP's commitment was decisive, the truth is that the housing problem remains. The PS Government continues to invest in the so-called New Generation of Housing Policies, which in essence seeks to transfer responsibility for solving housing problems to the Local Government and the so-called social sector.

In the area of Culture, the achievement of the goal of 1% of the State Budget and the institutionalisation of a true Public Service for Culture remain distant, while the evolution of the process of commodification of cultural objects is increasingly widespread and the labour and social situation of artists and other cultural workers is depreciated.

In relation to the democratic regime, the impacts of the PSD/CDS government action persist. Although in a more restrained manner the PS governments maintained in essence a policy that came from behind, of reconfiguring the State in the interest of monopoly capital. The lack of valorisation of the role of Public Administration workers, the redefinition of the nuclear functions of the State, reducing their role, preventing new forms of democratic management of the territory as would be with the implementation of regionalisation.

In the area of Justice, the policy of the two PS minority governments did not produce substantial improvements in the situation of the sector. This is evident in the continued underfunding of justice, the maintenance of difficulties and the unbearable cost of access to the courts and justice, the socio-professional situation of judicial operators or the lack of human resources in all areas.

Criminal investigation and its professionals also remain subject to serious constraints in the face of persistent shortage of resources.

The country has long needed a new model of Internal Security, through the merger of PSP [Police] and GNR [National Guard], creating a single internal security force of a civilian nature, in order to achieve greater rationality in the distribution of police personnel and logistical and support resources . A restructuring that should enhance preventive and proximity policing, provide solid training and guarantee pay and working conditions that dignify the police function.

As in other sectors in the Civil Protection System, there is still underfunding, the devaluation of the rights of professionals and insufficient resources.

In the area of National Defence and the Armed Forces, the excessive governamentalization of the military legislative edifice and the inability to respond to the structural problems of the military institution in terms of administration remain, with emphasis on the areas of recruitment, careers and the pay system.
Political orientation that dictates a growing national involvement in supranational missions and structures within the framework of NATO.

Together with the subordination to the interests of the USA, NATO and the militaristic project of the EU, the priority to reequip is established to meet the requirements of external engagement and leads to a rupture in the capacity to respond to national needs.

The Media, as stated in the Political Resolution, assumes a decisive role in mass information, in culture and in the formation of elements of social awareness and humanism, or in their perversion, in this phase of the crisis of capitalism.

The imperialist domination of the Media and of the digital platforms, and of the “national” economic and media groups that control the dominant media in Portugal, is an increasingly evident fact that conditions information and its ideological content, for the benefit of big capital and of the political forces that serve it.

In the Portuguese reality of this period, we are witnessing a brutal offensive carried out by big capital, which includes the promotion of reactionary values and thinking, revisionism and the falsification of history, fascism and of the 25th of April.

A brutal and continuous ideological offensive that has as a preferential target the PCP, the force that big capital identifies as the most coherent in the opposition and resistance to its domination.

An offensive in which the objectives of mutilation and subversion of the democratic regime, of questioning political rights, are asserted with increasing and undisguised clarity and where the clear intention to criminalise social and political struggle is recognised.

The four years - 2015 to 2019 - that corresponded to the “new phase of national political life”, was not a time in vain.

During this period, dogmas collapsed and the theses and reasons repeatedly underlined by the PCP were confirmed.

The path of defence, restoration and achievement of rights that marked the new phase of national political life was only possible, as we analysed it in our XX Congress, through the initiative and decisive intervention of the PCP. In the face of the political and electoral defeat of the PSD/CDS government, it was necessary to interrupt its destructive action and open prospects for the development of the mass struggle and the institutional struggle, given the political and institutional framework emerging from the 2015 elections.

An initiative that gave expression to the struggle of the workers and the people, also had the objective of not wasting the opportunity, with its intervention, to materialise advances, albeit limited, correspond to its commitment to intervene in all fields in the defence of their rights and interests.

A framework that was translated not in the formation of a left-wing government or any left-wing majority in the Assembly of the Republic, but in the formation and coming into office of a minority government of the PS with its own programme.

A political framework that expressed only the existence of a relationship of forces in which PSD and CDS-PP were in minority, and in which, at the same time, the parliamentary groups of the PCP and the PEV conditioned decisions and were determinant and indispensable to the defence, restoration and achievement of rights and income, with the PCP maintaining full political freedom and independence.

This was a period that revealed, contrary to what was meant to be instituted, that the improvement of living conditions, the extension of rights, the valorisation of wages and pensions, the increase in the available income of families, are conditions for economic growth, creation of wealth and employment.

But it also showed, as the PCP had always pointed out, that, without prejudice of the importance of responding to more pressing problems, the solutions and the policy that the country needs to ensure sovereign development, do not find a way out in the restrains of the PS class options and its government.

A phase of national political life that is not measured only by what has been advanced and achieved but also by what has been interrupted and prevented of measures already announced to attack rights, confiscate wages and income or alienate strategic companies and sectors, as well as political, electoral and constitutional subversion projects long sought by the protagonists of right-wing policies.

The Political Resolution lists a significant set of positive measures that, with the intervention of the PCP and the workers' struggle, resulted in the restoration of rights previously extorted and advances in the various fields ranging from the social to the fiscal, from the economy to transport, from healthcare to education and culture.

What has been achieved, being limited, has concrete meaning in the life of the Portuguese people and has not gone further, because the PS continued to be tied to class options that limited the scope and extent of the response that would be necessary.

It was through the hand of the PS that essential options of the labour legislation were maintained; non-recovery by the State of strategic sectors, which have been present in decades of right-wing policies.

In several matters the PS not only rejected proposals that in different areas responded to important problems, but let prevail, based on non-compliance, captivations and cuts to make budgetary criteria determined by its submission to the impositions of the European Union.

The valorisation that has been achieved is of particular importance. It contributed, in spite of the attempts of appropriation by the Government of positive measures that were not its own, to raise the awareness that the fight is decisive, that fighting is worthwhile, revealing once again that nothing is offered, that everything is achieved, that the mass struggle and Party’s intervention, with adequate guidance, determination and persistence, makes what many think impossible a reality.

The current parliamentary term presents a significant difference compared to the previous period resulting from the change in the balance of forces in the Assembly of the Republic resulting from the 2019 elections.

The PS has since been freer to give unconditional expression to the right-wing policy options that characterise it and have been confirmed in the essential options of the governmental action of its current minority government.

The PS government maintained its class commitments to monopoly capital by ensuring, through labour legislation, the conditions to exacerbate exploitation.
It has kept the interests associated with PPPs untouchable, it has not reverted to control by the State, of strategic companies such as CTT, it has continued to hand billions of euros to banks, like the scandalous case of Novo Banco reveals.

The answer to national problems, in terms of investment, public services, in boosting the economy and in the recovery of productive capacity, clashes against its option for the deficit.

In fact, what has changed between the previous and the current legislature are the circumstances and not the PS and its policy.

The country's economic and social situation has deteriorated in recent months, brutally.

The impacts of the epidemic, its use by big capital and the absence of a necessary response by the PS Government, associated with structural weaknesses in the country converge to a scenario of sharp drop in GDP, to a significant worsening of public debt, to a deterioration of the social situation with the increase of exploitation and poverty, to a deepening of the external dependence and of the concentration and centralisation of capital.

A situation that PSD, CDS and their proxies from Liberal Initiative and Chega try to take advantage of, riding on the crisis situation and lack of response to problems by the PS government to relaunch their policy of national disaster and attack on rights, wages, pensions, living conditions of workers and people and public resources, including the budget of the National Health Service.

As in recent years, our Party has pursued its own intervention and initiative guided by its commitment to the workers and the people and determined by its own political programme and project.

The PCP is not now, as it was not in the legislature that ended, government or part of an alleged “majority”, but a force of opposition to everything that contradicts or reverses the interests and rights of the workers and people, and an indispensable force with its initiative to advance in the conquest of new rights. So it was with the intervention in the State Budget for 2021, tabling a set of proposals that if fully approved, would have made it possible to find the necessary solutions in the various areas of economic, social and cultural life.

The options of the PS did not allow the Budget to accommodate the set of measures that were globally needed and refused, based on the convergence between PS and PSD, essential measures.

But the persistence of the PCP, its determination not to give up on the country, enabled the inclusion in the final version of the State Budget measures that will have a concrete translation in the lives of the workers and people.

The PCP abstained in the final global vote on the State Budget, guaranteeing that important proposals and solutions for which it fought and which were consecrated by its action, can have a translation in the lives of the workers and people.

An abstention that marks a distancing from the options and criteria that the Government assumes in a Budget that is its responsibility. The Government has no excuse to not answer what the country's situation and the lives of workers and people demand.

We insist that the global response to the serious economic and social situation that the country is experiencing requires compliance with measures from the Budget but also beyond it.

This is the time to decisively intervene and fight to ensure an answer to the problems of the workers, the people and the country.

The acuity, extent and severity with which a set of economic and social problems associated with the epidemic broke out continues to demand urgent measures and solutions that give more immediate answers to problems that workers and people face.

But what the situation in the country requires, above all, is to pave the way for another policy that ensures the conditions for the sovereign development of the country, to vigorously increase public investment, to overcome the main structural deficits, to value wages and rights of workers, to raise the living conditions of the people.

The necessary response to national problems is not compatible with the options that have also been expressed by the Government.

The vision and options that traverse them do not include the necessary valorisation of workers; they propose the maintenance of all the instruments of neoliberalism; completely ignore the constraints imposed by the absence of monetary sovereignty and by a public debt that consumes indispensable public resources; they assume the State as a facilitator and financier of economic groups, and ignore the domination by foreign capital of strategic companies and sectors.

The country's development requires sovereign options, not dependent on the criteria and decisions of third parties, without restrictions or constraints, namely in the use of EU funds.

The process of rearrangement of forces that the most reactionary sectors are promoting, in order to fully recover the conditions to resume their offensive, needs denouncing the options of the PS and its Government and the convergence that, with the approval of the President of the Republic, takes place between PS and PSD on essential issues and the fight and confrontation with the reactionary projects that PSD and CDS, and their political proxies have underway.

And it demands that, at the same time, the path of rupture with the right-wing policy and the affirmation and materialisation of an alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy, indispensable to economic development and social progress, must be clearly pointed out.

The PCP has answers and solutions to move the country forward. The objective of the PCP is to implement a policy capable of ensuring economic development and social progress. A policy to advance the country, to fully respond to the rights and aspirations of Portuguese workers and people, to affirm national sovereignty.

A policy to serve the people and the country, based on the Constitution of the Republic, which affirms and projects the values of April that ensures the construction of a developed Portugal, of progress and equality.

A patriotic and left-wing policy that develops around the following major objectives:

- A free and sovereign Portugal, a country that commands its destiny, a people that builds its future.

- A developed and solidary country, where the workers and people find a full response to the materialisation of their rights and aspirations.
- The defence of the productive sectors and national production and the affirmation of social property and the role of the State in the economy.

- A State to serve the people, which enforces social rights, ensures the right to healthcare, education and social protection, promotes culture, guarantees the right to mobility and housing.

- A unified and balanced country, the guarantee of progress and living conditions throughout the territory, on the continent and in the autonomous regions, in cities and rural areas, the defence of the interior and the rural world, based on regionalisation and territorial planning and an environmental policy that safeguards nature.

- A free and democratic Portugal based on respect for rights and freedoms, and on compliance with the Constitution of the Republic.

Ensuring the country's demographic sustainability, reducing social inequalities, correcting regional asymmetries, developing productive forces, ensuring a state and public services that meet the needs, increasing the level of public investment, demand other options, opposed to those that PS, PSD and CDS want to continue to impose and which, instead of solving, worsen the existing structural problems.

Which demands and places as distinctive marks and a break with the right-wing policy.

The wage valorisation assumed as a national emergency; move towards fair fiscal policy; priority to public investment; move forward with an ambitious programme for funding public services and the social functions of the State; inscribe a Healthcare investment programme as an absolute priority; implement an additional investment programme in the public transport sector; affirm, reinforce and expand social protection; guarantee a qualitative and quantitative leap in the development of the productive forces, namely with the digital economy; move towards a turning point in environmental policies; advance in the public recovery of strategic sectors; ensure a cohesive and balanced country and regionalisation; a new course for Justice and a firm combat against corruption.

The situation that the country is experiencing with the Covid-19 epidemic makes the alternative policy that the PCP proposes more topical, even more necessary.

The conditions to affirm and materialise the alternative policy that we advocate needs the demanding work of political action in the search for the convergence of democrats and patriots, of all those who cannot conform to a country reduced to a simple European region, to a colony of the powers of the Brussels Directorate. It involves strengthening the PCP and building a broad social and mass front convinced that it is possible to defeat the right and the right-wing policies.

Yes, the alternative policy that the PCP embodies is feasible with the strength and struggle of the Portuguese workers and people. With the widening of social, political and electoral influence of the PCP and its allies.

Yes, the materialisation of the alternative is inseparable from the strength and determination of the struggle of the working class, workers and all anti-monopoly strata. It was the persistent, prolonged and vigorous struggle of the masses that defeated the PSD/CDS government, interrupting a path of disaster. It was the struggle that gave strong support to every proposal our Party presented and managed to materialise. It was struggle that ensured the restoration, defence and achievement of rights. The struggle was the most decisive element for improving living and working conditions. It was the struggle that enabled resisting the attack on rights and the limitation of freedoms and guarantees. It will be with struggle and with the struggle that an alternative will appear and be constructed.

In that struggle, necessary for the social and political elevation of awareness of the masses, the determinant central role of the working class and all workers stands out, as the driving force and unifier of that broad social front that includes other non-monopolist classes and social strata and the populations.

A fight, as vigorous and important as it counted, fundamentally, with the organisation and mobilisation capacity of the workers, the trade unions of the Unitary Trade Union Movement and their class-oriented trade union central, CGTP-IN, to guarantee its dimension.

CGTP-IN that we salute on the year it commemorates its 50th. anniversary.

In a framework of a strong attack on its structure and its activists, shop stewards and leaders, CGTP-IN has confirmed itself as the great trade union central of the workers in Portugal, the firm, consistent and reliable organisation that throughout its 50 years of history, in the resistance against fascism, during the April Revolution, the counter-revolution and in decades of right wing policies, has always fulfilled its role and bore its responsibilities in the defence of the interests of the workers and the Country.

Its strength and influence lie in the profound liaison to the workers and workplaces, in the trust that workers place in it, inseparable from the affirmation of its class nature, based on an action practice developed in full respect for its essential principles and characteristics, of a unitary, democratic, independent and solidary mass organisation.

The struggle was carried out, involving thousands of workers from the main industries, commerce, services and hotels, transports and communications, fishermen, arts and entertainment, namely for raising wages, against precariousness, for the reduction of working hours and against its deregulation, in the defence of collective bargaining and the rights enshrined therein, against the expiry of collective bargaining and for the reinstatement of the principle of more favourable treatment for the worker, but also the workers of the Public Administration, Central and Local, for the increase of wages, against precariousness, for health hazard, hardship and risk pay, for the counting of the time of service, for a fair evaluation system, mobilising workers from all sectors of Public Administration and workers of the enterprises of the State owned business sector.

We salute all these workers that gave their committed contribution to solving these problems and for the conquest of individual and collective rights.

These are struggles and victories that give an undeniable contribution to encourage the struggle of other classes, social strata and groups and populations, that has achieved a relevant dimension and contributed to the solution of concrete problems and to raise awareness on the potential of the struggle, and to broaden the struggles' social front, determining factor for the convergence, at a political level with the goal of defeating right wing policy.

A struggle of non-monopolist classes and layers, of social groups and populations, that even with very diverse rhythms and dynamics was carried out throughout the country.

- Of farmers against policies that neglect family agriculture, and small and medium-size agriculture, namely the great national demonstration promoted by the National Agriculture Confederation (CNA), in November 2018, in defence of national production and the rural world;

- Of Micro, Small and Medium-size businessmen, against their crushing by monopolist groups;

- Of Technical and Intellectual Cadres, namely against precariousness and access to careers.

- Of arts and culture workers and agents for a policy to promote and support the arts that recognises and values their important role in society and guaranties an effective artistic and cultural freedom;

- Of youth and the JCP regarding their aspirations, especially for employment with rights, for public, free and quality education, equality, access to housing, the right to mobility, to sports and culture and the defence of the environment;

- Of women, mobilised by the Women's Democratic Movement (MDM), for equality and the exercise of their rights in particular the demonstrations held in Lisbon to commemorate March 8;

- Of the retired, pensioners and elderly and their movement – MURPI – for raising pensions, and ageing with dignity;

- Of the professionals from the security forces and services, regarding their social, professional and trade union claims;

- Of emigrants and all Portuguese and Portuguese descendants in defence of the rights of Portuguese communities abroad;

- Of immigrants for the right to legalisation, against discrimination, demanding compliance with Constitution of the Portuguese Republic;

And also the struggle:

- In defence of peace, against militarism and war, against NATO and imperialism;

- For the defence of the environment and ecological balance, that respects the restraints of national resources;

-Against all discriminations, namely against racism, xenophobia and sexual orientation;

- Of populations for the right to housing, in defence of public services and the social functions of the state.

Struggles that must be valued and whose depth and development are inseparable from the strengthening of organisation and the materialising capacity of its movements and organisations and that are a decisive part of the path towards the alternative.

The recognized and proven track record of work, honesty and competence is present in the intervention of the elected communists.

In the Assembly of the Republic with a decisive role in tabling solutions to national problems and translating them into many of the advances made in rights and improvement of living conditions.

In the European parliament affirming and defending national interests, fighting the Country’s submission to instruments and policies that hinder the Country’s sovereign development.

In the Legislative Assemblies of the autonomous regions of Azores and Madeira intervening so that the regional autonomy translates into development, raising of living conditions and use of the potential and resources f the regions.

In the Municipalities implementing a distinctive project translated into a trove of work and labour in benefit of populations and local development, defending and giving voice to the peoples’ interests and aspirations.

In all circumstances and institutions having as a goal the defence of workers’ and peoples’ rights, economic, social and cultural development of each and every parcel of the national territory, fighting for an alternative policy that gives answer to the national problems.

We will enter the new year with the holding of presidential elections with the importance that they have and to which comrade João Ferreira gives voice and expression, all the more important as it constitutes the candidacy that puts work and workers at the centre of his action and conceives a exercise of presidential functions in which this sovereign body is required to respect the Constitution and the fundamental rights it enshrines.

And also this important battle that the elections for the local government will constitute to affirm the path of work in the promotion of the living conditions of each parish and municipality.

A battle that requires broad unitary participation, making the CDU the space of democratic convergence with a wide presence in all the municipalities of the country and in the largest number of parishes.

The PCP proved in recent years in Portuguese society its ever-present commitment with the workers and the people, its class independence. We analyse, decide and act according to what we believe is necessary for the Country, with truth and openness, without giving in to campaigns, lies or threats. The Portuguese workers and people know that they relied on and can rely on the PCP in all circumstances.

The PCP has its own unmistakable identity, the communist identity that differentiates it with well-defined fundamental traits. The PCP by its practice, orientation and conception, assumes the essential characteristics of the communist identity: it is the party of the working class and of all workers, that defends the interests of anti-monopolist classes and strata, independent from the influence, the interests, the ideology and the policies of the forces of capital, closely linked to the working class, to all the workers and to the people in general. It holds as supreme goals the edification of socialism and communism, of a society freed from capitalist exploitation and oppression. The PCP has as it theoretical basis Marxism-Leninism, a materialist and dialectic view of the world, an instrument of analysis, a guide for action, a critical ideology of transformation. That has functioning principles which result from the creative development of democratic centralism, based on a profound inner-Party democracy, on a single general line and a single central leadership. It is a patriotic and internationalist Party.

The Party faced the reactionary anti-communist offensive, one of the strongest since the 25th. of April 1974, in which the enemies of the workers resorted to everything to attack, weaken and destroy the Party. The Party resisted, as no other would have done, and this is because we are what we are, we have the characteristics that differentiate us from all the others.

The last few years were very intense, the activity carried out has put the Party to the test and the organisation has responded. A remarkable work at the various levels, a remarkable dedication, the militancy of thousands of Party members in the different tasks, that did and do constitute the Party’s strength.
We fight and act with the Party that we have, a great force organised and determined in its objectives, with problems and shortcomings it is true, needing to be stronger as is necessary, but a great force unparalleled in our Country.

In the leadership work we have responded in essence, but it is necessary to overcome shortcomings. Cadres have a decisive role, new cadres have taken on responsibilities at various levels, including new Party functionaries, who are not employees, have a fundamental role as revolutionary cadres, as full-time militants. It is essential to increase the number of cadres at all levels, to great extent the Party’s strength and mobilisation capability depends on this, and it is necessary to advance the political and ideological formation, continuing and intensifying the work carried out with courses and other formation initiatives.

The recruitment of new militants in recent years was important, it constitutes a source of renewal and rejuvenation, about two thirds of new militants were under 50 years old when they joined the Party, but this did not compensate the exits, with a reduction of the Party members. We moved forward with the initiative five thousand new contacts, and spoke individually with more than 5 thousand workers, 1 350 joined the Party and many others expressed their willingness to help, an important experience that should mark our work style. For the future, even more attention and priority must be given to strengthening the Party’s organisation and intervention with the working class and the workers, in companies and workplaces and in this context the ongoing work to make 100 comrades take responsibility for cells and the creation of 100 more companies and workplace cells stands out. Attention needs to be paid to local organisations and the content of their action in connection with the populations, as well as to intervention with specific strata and sectors; to youth and the JCP; to women; to micro, small and medium-size businessmen; to small and medium-size farmers; to fishermen; intellectuals and technical staff and the cultural sector; to the retired and pensioners; to emigrants, the Portuguese communities and Portuguese descendants abroad; to immigrants; to people with disabilities; to the unemployed.

The connection to workers and populations, the connection to the masses is a central element of the Party’s characteristics, there are advances but there are also more closed organisations. In all organisations, everywhere, as our historic experience shows, it is necessary to maintain and deepen the connection to the workers and populations.

The ideological offensive directed from the centres of big capital and the more reactionary sectors, demands from us resistance and initiative in the political and ideological battle, in the information, propaganda, press and editorial work. There is a great imbalance of means, the control by big capital of the major mass media is evident, but we have our own means, our organisation, the militant action of information and propaganda, the work on digital platforms that has deepened and developed in recent years, the “Avante!” and the “Militante”, a set of tools that we must perfect and use in all their scope and reach.

In the diversified content of PCP’s action, in so many aspects, from information and propaganda, to construction of solutions, and resorting to all forms of struggle, there is also a dimension that characterises and distinguishes us, the synthesis, fusion and integration of political action, with art, culture, sport, heritage, conviviality, with various expressions of human experience. All this is an illustration of this remarkable and unique achievement that is the Avante! Festival. There are narrow and backward minds that do not like, do not want, even hate solidarity, culture, friendship and therefore also dislike the Festival. This has always been so, once again this year, under the excuse of the epidemic, they broke the democratic veneer and unleashed their hatred, but the strength of the struggle, solidarity, culture, with all the safety and responsibility, made the 2020 Avante! Festival and its remarkable rally an example. We will move on, now is already the time when with ingenuity and art we launch and design next year's Avante! Festival.

We are a party characterised by its political and ideological independence, which also requires its own means that do not depend on no one but ourselves, the organisation, the propaganda instruments, the facilities and work centres and also the financial means indispensable to the Party's activity. Financial independence is fundamental to guarantee the Party's independence, activity and intervention. Party funds imply permanent and widespread attention, control of expenses and increased revenue, the central element of which is the value and regular payment of dues by every Party member and encompasses campaigns and fund raising initiatives with emphasis at present on the important national fund raising campaign “the future has a Party”.

We have shortcomings, problems and hurdles, but we have the strength, the conviction and the determination to overcome them. The Portuguese workers and people need the PCP, the situation demands a stronger and more influential PCP. Let us move forward, linking initiative and political intervention to the strengthening of the Party. This XXI Congress is in itself a demonstration of our determination, our commitment to the workers and the people, of a party that acts every day and is here to discuss and point out solutions for the future of Portugal, for a more developed and fairer country.

Determination and commitment to the workers and people tested and tempered in this centennial struggle that we fight and where life was not easy.
We are dealing with a complex and difficult situation, in a context and in a political framework of uncertainty and insecurity, of fear mongering, in which the most backward forces don’t limit themselves to spreading the fear of dying, but try to transform it into fear of living, working and fighting. We must rescue hope, with our confidence, in a better future for workers, the people and our Motherland.

Long live the 21st Congress!

Long live the struggle of workers and peoples!

Long live the PCP!

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  • Intervenções
  • XXI Congresso
  • Central
Intervenções
XXI Congresso