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Issue #1705      October 7, 2015

The choice facing the people of Portugal

The following are extracts from a speech made by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary, Amora, Seixal in Portugal at a rally of the 2015 Avante! Festival on September 6, 2015. Avante! is the newspaper of the Communist Party of Portugal (PCP).

Here we are those who in various countries from every continent truly want to change the world. A change all the more necessary since the international situation is increasingly marked by great instability, insecurity and injustice.

A man in a Che Guevara T-shirt at Festa do Avante!, in Seixal. The festival draws crowds of 200,000. (Photo: Pedro Nunes)

The deepening of capitalism’s structural crisis is here marking the present. Capitalism’s economic and financial crisis is far from over, expressing itself in many different ways and in all parts of the globe.

What we see everywhere is a violent sharpening of imperialist aggressiveness. In a world marked by important processes of rearrangement of forces it is increasingly clear that the major imperialist powers do not accept the loss of their hegemonic domination and bet on militarism and war to try to keep it.

Sources of tension multiply and expand in various parts of the globe, carrying out criminal operations of destabilisation and foreign interference.

Seventy years after the victory over Nazi-fascism, which we are celebrating, fascism raises its head in various regions of the globe. This is clearly visible in Ukraine, where a putschist power of the oligarchy and fascist groups, supported by the US and the European Union attacks its own people and persecutes the democrats of that country – which includes the communists, victims of terrorism and illegalisation. To the Ukrainian communists who are present here, we would like to express our solidarity and support.

Recent news has shown us shocking images of hundreds of thousands of human beings who come to Europe or die on its doorstep, fleeing war, poverty, unemployment, destruction of their countries. They flee from countries like Syria, Iraq and Libya, among others. All countries subject to processes of interference and imperialist domination, wars of aggression unleashed by the US and the European Union.

In answer to hypocritical speeches, we affirm: it is necessary to respond to the humanitarian drama, respect the rights of these human beings, creating conditions for a real integration. But it is necessary, also and above all, to tackle the causes – and the causes lie in the policy of the US, NATO and the European Union – in the destabilisation and plunder of the resources of these countries, imposing an end to aggression and not creating others, whatever the pretext, including the false pretext of concern for the refugees.

That is the great need that emerges from the analysis of the international situation. Strive for the progress of the people, for the sovereign development of States, fight for peace, against militarism and disregard for international law. Fight against the war plans, against NATO.

Our Country is, together with other European countries, one of the main victims of the process of European capitalist integration which is crushing rights and sovereignty on this continent.

If anyone had doubts on the nature of the European Union they can now be dispelled. Capitalism’s crisis further enhanced the neoliberal, militarist and federalist pillars of the European Union. The last few years, and the most recent events, have proved that the European Union's solidarity and cohesion was, and is, a huge lie. Reality proves PCP right when it says that the European Union is a project of domination of peoples and countries by large multinationals and a directory of powers.

We affirm today, as we have always affirmed, that in Europe there are sufficient forces to tread different paths. Paths that reject the trampling of national sovereignties, the exploitation of workers and depletion of the resources and wealth of the countries.

Other paths are both necessary and possible. That should be treaded boldly, with principles, truth and determination, implementing the necessary ruptures!

No! We do not accept, as we have never accepted, theories of inevitability!

Timeliness of socialism

The sharpening of the class struggle and capitalism’s increasingly exploitative, oppressive, aggressive and predatory nature demonstrates, increasingly, the timeliness and importance of the communist project, of a new society, of socialism and communism. This is the big prospect of struggle that, in different ways and stages, the workers and the people face.

The PCP, a patriotic and internationalist party is here, fighting major battles. To all of you we affirm that you can rely on this Portuguese Communist Party and its contribution to the broader struggle for the emancipation of the workers and peoples.

Successive years of right-wing policy, with consequences on the life of the Country and of the Portuguese during the period of the last two governments, with the application of three Stability and Growth Pacts – SGPs – by the PS (social democrat) government and a Program of a so-called Financial Assistance, but in fact of interference and aggression and which weakened and ruined the country even more.

Yes, they were the ones who all together – (PSD right-wing social democrat), PS and CDS (Christian Democrat) – placed the country into the hands of foreigners and their program of plunder and social terrorism.

It was with their active connivance, their arrangements and the fallacious pretext of an imminent bankruptcy that they imposed the policy of exploitation and impoverishment of the workers, of our people and the plunder of the country's assets that we have been witnessing and which they aim to continue.

When Portugal is today a more impoverished, more fragile, more dependent country, we owe it to them and their policy of national disaster, of capitalist recovery and monopolist restoration.

When we have a country marked by economic stagnation for a decade and a half and a sharp fall of the GDP, more than six percent in these years of the policy of the Troika, with the destruction of thousands of companies and jobs, we owe it to them, to the PS, PSD and CDS and their policy of privatisation and destruction of national productive sectors and, with the Euro, the alienation of our budgetary, monetary and exchange rate sovereignty.

If today we have a dramatic social situation with high levels of unemployment that affect 1.2 million Portuguese, brutal levels of job precariousness, drastic cuts in labour income and of large sections of the population, we owe it to them, to the PSD, PS and CDS and their policy of continuous aggravation of labour exploitation.

Impoverishment

If thousands of Portuguese have their salaries, pensions and retirement extorted and degraded and see their most basic labour rights destroyed, a situation that affected all sectors, with particular impact on Public Administration workers, they owe it to them, and their deliberate policy of transferring to the people losses from speculative banking and big business activities.

If in the last five years more than 500,000 Portuguese were forced to migrate, we owe it to them, to the PSD, PS and CDS and their strategy of impoverishment of the people and their policy of destruction of jobs, and of the national scientific and research system.

If we have a country which is long riddled with a profound fiscal injustice, worsened by the greatest increase in taxes on labour income in living memory, we owe it to them, and particularly this PSD/CDS government and their policy of national confiscation.

If the country has, in these years of SGP and Pact of Aggression, a state of serious decline in access to rights to health, education, social protection and culture, with cuts and attacks lashed on the National Health Service, Public Schools, Social Security and liquidation and weakening of the system of social benefits, we owe it to them, to the PS, PSD and CDS and their policy of reconfiguration of the State in favour of large groups and their businesses, dismantling the achievements of April and in confrontation with the Constitution of the Republic.

If Portugal is a country increasingly unequal, socially and territorially, where poverty came knocking on the door of hundreds of thousands of people – over 800,000 in the last four years of this government, rising to 2.7 million Portuguese living below the poverty line – we owe it to them, their decisions bound to the policies of the troika and their policy of centralisation and concentration of wealth in the hands of the lords of money and power.

These are the ones whose wealth continues to grow. With the rich getting richer, with the 25 largest fortunes in the country once again having their assets growing!

Intense struggle

This intense struggle that the workers, the Portuguese people have been carrying out to uphold their interests and rights, in resistance to the offensive of big business and the political power at their service, always with a view to make a rupture with the policy of exploitation, impoverishment and national disaster.

From here we salute the workers, the youth, the retired and pensioners, the users of public services, the small and medium-size entrepreneurs, the small and medium-size farmers, the fishermen, people with disabilities, the unemployed, the military, the professionals of forces of security, all those who took in their hands the resistance and the struggle for rights, against social regression, for a better life, for a developed and sovereign country.

Resistance and struggle without which the offensive of big business would have gone further, that isolated socially and politically the PSD/CDS government and points the way that will lead to their defeat.

A struggle that had the strength and the role of the broad united trade union movement, the CGTP-IN, the great trade union central of the Portuguese workers. A struggle that had the communists at the forefront of its execution, that had the active intervention and solidarity of PCP.

The struggle of the workers of a broad anti-monopoly social front, enabled to isolate a government whose defeat the people are now called to confirm with their vote in the important electoral battle for the Assembly of the Republic that is near. We won the battle against resignation and inevitabilities; we will win the battle for a rupture and a change.

The necessity and urgency of a rupture with the right-wing policy to stop the course of economic decline and social regression, emerges as a national imperative, a patriotic demand!

PSD and CDS, instrumentalising the State apparatus and public monies to garner electoral support, at the same time as they launch fraudulent propaganda operations, with recourse to fantastic interpretations of statistical indicators, trying to present a trail of destruction left by four years of their government as a success.

They proclaim themselves liberators of the homeland. The homeland they themselves, shamelessly, also turned over to the bankers.

They wave the Greek situation around, to make it their lifejacket. But what the events in Greece demonstrate is the imperious need for resistance and struggle against the blackmails, pressures and impositions of the Euro and European Union.

What they demonstrate is how PCP was right, that there is no solution without renegotiating the debt, without liberation from the constraints of the Euro that condition the sovereign development of countries. What they demonstrate is that the paths that one need follow and that are possible need to be built with courage, with principles, truth and determination, leading to the necessary ruptures and believing always in the power and strength of the people’s struggle.

Therefore, whatever they promise or say, the Portuguese won’t forget the nightmare of their governance. As they won’t forget that their true program is the one they sent to Brussels – the National Reform Program – based on the intensification of the policy of disasters of the previous four years, and therefore nothing will save them from a profound defeat!

But if PSD and CDS are hiding that their true program is tied to the guidelines of big national and transnational capital, the Socialist Party (PS) is following the same path.

Behind much propaganda, what PS, PSD and CDS are preparing for after the elections (October 4), if they have the necessary votes, are measures to deepen exploitation, devaluing wages and increasing precariousness, amputating social security, attacking pensions and the retired, the National Health Service, the Public School, Culture, the democratic Local Power, the democratic regime and national sovereignty.

That is their real program.

On October 4, the Portuguese people have two options:

Support and vote for CDU (Democratic Unitarian Union – includes PCP) and therefore break with the policies of disaster that have brought so many privations and condemn those responsible; or, on the contrary, vote for the parties of the arc of right-wing policy and allow them, for a few more years, to pursue exploitation, impoverishment, the submission of the country.

Support CDU

Support and give strength to the patriotic and left-wing policy that CDU proposes or give a free pass to PS, PSD and CDS to prolong and intensify the policy that has led the country into ruin.

For CDU there is no hesitation. CDU is and will be always beside the workers and people, ready to assume all the responsibilities the Portuguese people want to attribute to it in the country’s government, bearer of a patriotic and left-wing policy capable of solving the national problems.

There are those who hasten to say there is no alternative to a policy of exploitation and impoverishment, that one can’t escape the impositions of the European Union, that the country doesn’t have resources capable of sustaining any other policy.

We know very well who elaborates this discourse and whose interests it serves.

It is reality itself that places a rupture with the right-wing policy as a national imperative. A rupture that is no mere decorative measure, but assumes a project of development for the Country, placing at the centre of its action the interests and needs of our people and country. A policy we know is necessary, possible and doable.

Doable with the strength and struggle of the workers and Portuguese people, with economic growth as a decisive and strategic factor, with a determined and firm affirmation of the right of the Country to a sovereign development.

Next article – Iran nuclear agreement – The decline of US power

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