Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary 4 December 2016, Almada
Comrades and friends
On the verge of the closing of the XX Congress, we can say that we have successfully achieved the objectives we set ourselves.
Firstly, with the degree of involvement and participation of the delegates. Their permanent presence and participation dignified the mandate they were given. Nobody forced them. It was an act of freedom and responsibility, of free men and women who strive for a better life for the workers and Portuguese people, men and women who make a difference in how they are in politics, in this Party.
Even in the Congresses, the parties are not all the same.
We also salute the comrades and invited friends who are always present, expressing their support for the speeches. Delegates from Bragança or Flores Island [Azores] spoke about life, the problems of their region, their sector, the reality of the companies and workplaces.
We heard workers, we heard farmers and small businessmen, intellectuals, young people, women, retired people, people with disabilities, specialists, men and women of knowledge, who came to talk about economic policy, health, education, social security, public water, the value of labour, culture, and national production.
They spoke of their country and of national sovereignty.
We showed genuine and spontaneous internationalist feelings, deep and heartfelt solidarity with the parties, peoples and countries attacked and threatened by imperialism, namely Cuba, Syria, Palestine and Ukraine.
We spoke about the struggle and its development as a strategic element to put an end to blockades, constraints, and begin the construction of the alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy.
We spoke of our party life, of the political, social and electoral strengthening of the PCP as irreplaceable and indispensable in the construction of alternative policies for which we fight, of strengthening the Party’s organization, in particular, by carrying out a great campaign to recruit new militants.
We spoke and debated the new phase of national political life in which the Congress valued the Party’s role, proposal and initiative.
And let me, comrades, retrieve the last sentences of the closing speech of the XIX Congress. We affirmed then: “In a situation as hard as fists, when the workers, the Portuguese people and the country suffer a destructive and shattering blast of the PSD/CDS-PP government policy, we affirm: Nothing is lost forever and ever.”
“When the workers and the populations intensified and extended the struggle the government shook; if this struggle grows, the government will be defeated.”
And it was!
Not only the PSD/CDS-PP government, but also the ideology of inevitability, conformism and fear. A window of hope was opened, rights and incomes were restored and conquered.
Comrades and friends
At this Congress we discussed the new phase of national political life and the determination of the PCP, with the workers and the people, to do everything to further the defence, restoration and conquest of rights.
This XX Congress is the affirmation of the need and urgency to answer the great question that arises: the alternative capable of opening the way to solve the country’s problems.
This Congress is the affirmation of a Party, the Portuguese Communist Party, which assumes the project of the necessary policy for the Country, of a patriotic and left-wing policy and which fights and will fight for it.
Of a Party, the Portuguese Communist Party, which addresses all democrats and patriots who wish to converge with us, to make this policy possible, indispensable for overcoming national problems.
Of a Party, the Portuguese Communist Party, which calls on the workers and the people, to take in their hands, the defence of their interests and rights, to materialize the patriotic and left-wing policy, for a developed and sovereign Portugal.
Yes, in this XX Congress, before all of you and before the Country, the PCP affirms itself as the force that carries the necessary policy for a Portugal with future, as the force that assumes the commitment to the workers and the people, to all the democrats and patriots, to finally end the exploitation, the impoverishment, the decline and the dependency, and to assure a Portugal with future.
This struggle and this convergence is not about a vacuum, it is a struggle and a convergence around a concrete policy, of solutions for the country.
And so, here we reaffirm, in summary, the content of this patriotic and left-wing policy: liberate Portugal from the web of submission, dependence and constraints imposed by the euro, renegotiate the debt, recover for the country what belongs to the country. Its resources, its strategic sectors, its inalienable right to growth, development and job creation.
To put Portugal to produce, with more agriculture, more fisheries, more industry, to create more wealth and to distribute it better, supporting micro, small and medium-size enterprises.
Valuing work and workers, their salaries, their individual and collective rights.
A people with a right to healthcare, with the right to education and access to culture. A people with social protection.
This is the path, this is the alternative of the future that Portugal needs and not the return to the past of the SGPs and the Pact of Aggression, the devastating action of the PSD/CDS-PP government. This is the path of the future that our Congress points out.
We shall materialize it, we shall connect these objectives to our action and so here we want to stress some of the priorities of our forthcoming intervention:
– The struggle to raise wages and set the national minimum wage at 600 euros, next January;
– The struggle for workers’ rights, by changing the grievous aspects of labour legislation, namely the repeal of the expiry of collective bargaining and the reinstatement of the more favourable treatment to the worker;
– The combat against precariousness and application of the principle that a permanent job must correspond to an effective working relationship;
– The defence and valorisation of the social functions of the State, namely the National Health Service, Public School, public transport and culture;
– The action for the renegotiation of the public debt; the development of the action for freeing from submission to the Euro, for production, employment and national sovereignty.
It is incomprehensible that the country is not prepared to free itself from submission to the Euro.
It is unacceptable to leave the future of the country in the hands and to the will of those who wish to liquidate our sovereignty, to leave the country unarmed against new processes of suffocation and blackmail on Portugal. It is unacceptable that they wish to throw us, as a people and nation, into a dead end of impoverishment, of dependence, with the denial of Portugal’s rights to its sovereign development.
It is unacceptable that every year more than 8 thousand million euros should be withdrawn from public funds just to pay interest on the debt, in order to maintain the “privilege” of, at the end of every year, having exactly the same debt.
It is incomprehensible that every year we witness the threats and blackmail on the deficit of the public finances, when the true and real problem of the country is the fact that Portugal has one of the world’s largest public and external debts.
It is unthinkable to prolong an unsustainable public debt for many more years, refusing to begin its renegotiation, in its terms, interest and amounts, as the PCP has long proposed, and which can and should be articulated with the liberation of the country from submission to the Euro.
The 2017 Local Elections constitute a major political battle that the Party will be called upon to wage. An election that is a moment of particular significance:
– A moment to affirm and valorise CDU as a space for a broad-united participation and for the achievement of democratic convergence, this convergence that is a factor of strengthening the basis of the struggle for the political alternative;
– A moment to demonstrate the recognized capacity of management, of commitment to the interests of the populations and to answer their problems, affirming the PCP and CDU as a force capable of assuming all the responsibilities that the workers and the people want to bestow on them;
– A moment to affirm a singular presence in the exercise of power, pointing the recognized honesty and competence as a value that weighs and will weigh on the choice of all those who do not dispense with the presence of values in national political life;
– A moment to progress and to advance, to confirm majorities and to conquer new positions and mandates that, with the electoral and political reinforcement, next October, will give the necessary and indispensable strength to the PCP, this necessary and indispensible force, and thus weigh more decisively in national political life.
Comrades and friends
The Congress affirmed and reaffirmed our identity as a party of the working class and of all workers, regardless of the influence, ideological interests, and policies of the forces of capital.
It confirmed and reaffirmed the supreme goals, the construction of socialism and communism, a society freed from capitalist exploitation and oppression.
It confirmed and reaffirmed its theoretical basis, Marxism-Leninism, the materialistic and dialectical conception of the world, an instrument of analysis, a guide for action and a critical and transforming ideology, its principles of functioning stemming from the creative development of democratic centralism, based on a profound internal democracy, on a single general guideline and on a single central leadership.
It confirmed and reaffirmed that this Party will spare no effort, no task, aimed at defending and conquering rights and improving the living conditions of the workers and people, always with their eyes on the horizon, in the supreme goal that animates and justifies our reason to be and to fight: a society freed from the exploitation of man by man.
At the beginning of the Congress, we said that we would start from the present thinking about the future. An uncertain future in the face of the crisis of capitalism and the aggressive and warmongering imperialist response; in view of the crisis of and in the European Union, which continues to postpone its problems; the uncertainty at the national level in view of the contradiction that external constraints and impositions pose to new social advances.
But who, other than this Party, which has never had an easy life, which has been tempered in so many struggles and which has never been discouraged by setbacks and defeats, which has never rested even when faced with advances and victories, can affirm its confidence in the workers, in our People, its confidence in our sovereign homeland?
The materialization of the fascinating project and goal that we strive for, this millenary dream of the human being to be freed from exploitation by another man, the project and ideal that has brought us to this Party, will possibly only materialize after our lives.
But this is our time! Time to do, act and fight for this project and ideal. Make it closer and possible.
Long live the struggle of the workers and people!
Long live internationalist solidarity!
Long live the youth and the JCP!
Long live the XX Congress!
Long live the Portuguese Communist Party!