Dear friends and comrades!
Warm greetings to all of you who are here with the strength of your presence. Greetings to all the builders who participated in the days of work with that unique militancy and generosity, to all the participants and visitors of our Avante! Festival. A especial greeting to the youth and the JCP, always with their massive presence, their indispensable contribution in raising this space of freedom and ensuring its exemplary functioning.
We greet and do not forget all those who could not be here but contributed to its holding, a greeting extended to many others who are not here, but with whom we have an appointment in the struggles of the coming times and in the Festivals of the coming years.
We built and held our Festival, this great Festival and this Rally of solidarity, peace, friendship, democracy and socialism, in a context of unprecedented hostility by great economic interests and by the most reactionary and conservative forces, against which they moved a deceitful campaign, using their powerful media resources and intoxicating public opinion to make it unviable.
They wanted to shut us up. They did not succeed!
Yes, we held the Festival, complying with health rules, because its holding is, first of all, a way to ensure the defence and functioning of democratic life in its fullness and this is contrary to their wishes.
For the same reasons that before led us to express our disagreement with solutions that imposed limitations on the exercise of freedoms and collective labour and civic action, when many thousands were, in silence and lockdown, victims of the arbitrariness of big capital.
For the same reasons that led us to be where life called us to defend employment, wages, labour and social rights, freedoms, affirming and exercising them, contrary to those who, under the pretext of the epidemic, forcefully wanted to limit and restrict them, feeding all fears.
Yes, those who did everything to make the Festival unviable, what they most wanted was to silence this force that came here and is here.
Here is the strength of a Party that works, lives and struggles to serve the workers and the people.
This is a powerful collective and each one of us is here making a stand, demonstrating a commitment, conveying a message that echoes in this huge space and projects far beyond it.
We are not here just to hear the word of the speeches. We are here, each one of us, all of us, telling the workers, the Portuguese people, that they can count on us, that they can count on the PCP at all times, in all situations.
We are here, ensuring health standards, because we have a commitment to the workers, for the fulfilment of their aspiration to work with rights and for a valorised and fair wage.
We are here to reaffirm our commitment to the defence of democratic rights and freedoms, in companies, on the street, wherever it is necessary to use them to defend the right to strike, to protest, to demonstrate, to trade union and civic action in all fields of their lives.
We are here because we will never accept being drawn into the swamp of conformism dreamed by those who live from exploitation, in this time of worsening of all national problems.
We are here, respecting health standards, to reaffirm that we will not abandon the frontline of the fight for better living conditions for our people, for their right to healthcare, education, social security, housing and mobility, and willing to build a Portugal with a future.
We are here, and that is an added reason, to fight fear and to give hope and confidence in the fight for the future.
Do the times we are passing hold risks and dangers? Yes! Was it necessary and is necessary to take measures to defend health? No doubt! We always defended this need.
In terms of health, it must be said, the PCP was not only, but is, the most coherent and determined political force in its defence and that of the National Health Service that ensures it.
A Party that has always presented solutions, including in this time of epidemic. Solutions to respond to possible worsening of the epidemiological situation and to guarantee the normality and effectiveness of the care provided to users, as defended in the Emergency Plan for the NHS, tabled by the PCP in July in the Assembly of the Republic.
But to ensure health, many other aspects of people's situation must be guaranteed. It is necessary to guarantee the lives of the many thousands who were and continue to be confronted with the greed and opportunism of those who, in the shadow of the epidemic, have worsened exploitation.
In this period, thousands of workers were dismissed, since the mechanisms to allow ditching workers, whether at the end of six months of the trial period, or the non-renewal of contracts, or the collective dismissals, or false independent workers, were already in place. All they needed was to activate them.
Hundreds of thousands have seen their wages cut, particularly those that have been under lay-off. With the first difficulties, capital sought to throw the costs that are theirs on the backs of the workers and on the State Budget, while in the Government and in the Assembly of the Republic, PS, PSD and CDS rejected PCP's proposals to forbid dismissals and guaranteeing 100% payment of wages.
Many thousands have seen attacks on their right to leave, to stable working hours, to variable components of pay such as meal allowances, revealing the imbalances in labour relations that have now worsened.
Micro, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs were forced to suspend their business and saw their activities undermined. And the lasting effects that are being felt today stem, not from the epidemic, but from the drop of purchasing power.
But this was also a time for the worsening of many other problems. Young people, children and the elderly had to face this situation of unusual isolation. Isolation that is not exempt from social, emotional, psychological and health consequences in general, in a context in which previous problems were brought to light, such as inequality in the distribution of family income and situations of poverty, but also in access to education under conditions of equality and deepening the situations of social marginalization of the elderly. The rights of all of them cannot be suspended.
Yes, it is necessary to protect the elderly, but protecting them cannot mean abandonment or stigmatization, with irreversible impacts on mortgaging their life and their right to grow old with rights.
Hard times also for the culture that saw old problems of systematic devaluation of all its activities aggravated.
Allow me to take the opportunity to greet all the artists, technicians and other professionals of culture who participate in this unique event and through them all the others across the country who are today being strongly affected in their lives and production. For us, culture is not disposable!
We are a force that aims the achievement and well-being in all dimensions of human life.
The world situation brutally portrays the exploitative, oppressive, aggressive and predatory nature of capitalism, displaying its profoundly inhuman character, its huge responsibilities for the serious problems and scourges that affect Humanity.
In the context of capitalism’s structural crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the new economic crisis that has long been announced, which lays bare the enormous and unacceptable social injustices and inequalities that mark the reality of millions of human beings.
Big capital seeks to use the current situation to impose an even more violent exploitation of the workers, more serious attacks on the rights, freedoms, democracy, sovereignty and independence of States, a greater private appropriation of natural resources.
Trying to counter its relative decline and safeguard its hegemonic dominance in the world, the United States of America, with the support of its allies - namely NATO -, intensifies aggressive action in confrontation with international law, imposing sanctions, economic blockades, operations of destabilization and aggression against countries and peoples that affirm the right to freely decide their destiny.
75 years after the Victory over Nazi-fascism in World War II, a firm denunciation and action is needed to counter the increasingly reactionary, authoritarian and fascistic drift that is underway, and increase the struggle for peace and disarmament, against war and militarism.
Saluting the foreign delegations present at the Avante! Festival, the PCP reaffirms its solidarity with the workers and peoples who stand up in defence of their rights all over the world, pointing out diverse immediate objectives, opening up possibilities for democratic, progressive and revolutionary advances.
The gravity of the international situation demands, with an enormous importance, the convergence in the action of the communists and other democrats, in a wide anti-imperialist front to stop imperialism’s exploitative and aggressive offensive and pave the way for the construction of a new international order, of peace , sovereignty and social progress.
Convergence among forces that reject an increasingly neoliberal, militaristic and federalist European Union, and which fight for a Europe of effective cooperation, social progress and peace, for a Europe of workers and peoples.
The communists, all revolutionaries, face great demands to undertake resolute action for workers' rights, for freedom, democracy and sovereignty, for the advancement of social transformation, for a society free from exploitation and oppression, for socialism.
Portugal has long faced serious problems and which the epidemic has now laid bare in all its harshness. Chronic structural deficits in several areas. Deficits that turned Portugal into an increasingly dependent and fragile country, with extremely negative impacts on economic growth, on foreign balance and on the foreign debt.
A country where serious social and regional inequalities and serious social problems persist, where precarious work, unemployment, an unfair distribution of wealth, a weak and insufficient social protection response, and unacceptable levels of poverty and social exclusion weigh.
There are those who strive to make people believe, to evade their own responsibilities and to eternalize the policies of disaster of the past, that the problems facing the country today are essentially the result of the epidemic. They really want to make us believe that after it, everything will be fine, as if everything were fine and the future of the country and its development guaranteed.
The causes of our backwardness, economic weaknesses and profound inequalities are not of today, we find them in decades of right-wing policies implemented by successive PS, PSD and CDS governments, which privatised strategic sectors in favour of monopolies, destroyed productive capacity, cut down public investment, weakened essential public services, promoted exploitation and work without rights.
The causes lie in this policy that increased external dependence, which subjected the country to the dictates of the European Union and the Euro to serve big transnational capital and the interests of big national capital and its allies.
A policy of submission of political power to economic power and aimed at the concentration and centralisation of wealth, which turned a blind eye to the corruption that privatisations fuelled and which has in the example of the BES bank the blueprint, the model, of this policy of submission and trafficking and which continues today, with the shedding of millions for the Novo Banco that should have been nationalized long ago.
A policy that drowned labour in taxes and relieved big business. That allows tax evasion by top listed major economic groups to the Netherlands and other tax havens.
A policy that was never short of money and facilities for capital!
It was this policy that weakened Portugal and, of course, the epidemic tends to worsen, adding problems to the serious problems that the country already faced and when new signs of economic and social setback are there and make themselves heard, with big capital, with the connivance of the political forces that serve it, preparing the ground for this setback, using the epidemic as a pretext.
There they are curbing the general increase in wages and the National Minimum Wage. There they are questioning the increase in salaries of Public Administration workers, pre-announcing new periods of freezing adding to the decade in which they lost wages and purchasing power.
There they are talking about new changes in the labour legislation, namely to introduce new lines of exploration, for example in the situation of teleworking.
There they are perpetuating the poor functioning of public services, from assistance in healthcare units at the window, over the phone or at a porthole, to the extension of virtual classes or the long queues on the street at the Social Security or Post Office services.
There they are claiming new structural reforms, this euphemism they use to hide the measures they propose to deepen the exploitation of labour and destruction of public services, to show the directory of the great powers of the European Union, even if they have nothing to do with the epidemic.
Well-woven webs seeking to create an atmosphere conducive to the acceptance of such measures, which they have long pursued, and for which they now have excuses.
Yes, there we have them to give life to projects and dynamics of social and civilizational regression that have marked the country in the last decades, namely to give strength and feed the action of reactionary forces and sectors, in which PSD, CDS and their proxy parties are inserted actively seeking to undermine the democratic regime and the Constitution of the Republic.
An action that takes advantage of the problems created by capital itself and its agents, where the promotion and instrumentalization of violence and racism weighs, stimulating social segregation and the criminalist and justicialist drift, most visible expressions of a reactionary and fascistic dimension.
It is also to defeat these aims that the path, today as yesterday, is to mobilise those who are affected by these attacks, that of action, intervention and the development of the struggle to face them.
Yes, with each new wave of attack on rights, with each offensive, what other weapon do the workers have?
In the face of every closure of public services, each doctor less in the Healthcare Centre, each cut in transport timetables, what other response can the population give?
The times are hard and demand a determination to resist the discourse of fear and that there is no alternative.
But these months have shown that there are strengths and that there is courage to face them.
So from this rostrum we salute the many struggles in companies and workplaces, for the right to employment, wages, working hours, rights.
From here we valorise this strength that stands up to the offensive, which is not resigned to the inevitabilities that every day want to sell us.
And from here we salute the great trade union central of Portuguese workers, CGTP-IN. Class-oriented, unitary, democratic, independent, solidary and mass trade union central that always knew, throughout its almost 50 years of history, that is celebrated this coming October 1st., to honour the strength and prestige that the workers bestow on it.
And, from here the PCP appeals to all workers, to all those affected by the right-wing policy, to the youth, the women, our people, to develop the struggle around their concrete demands and participate, next September 26, throughout the country, in the actions called by CGTP-IN.
Portugal urgently needs to recover production levels, employment, wages and living conditions, and to reverse a situation that is already marked by the prospect of a deep economic recession, but at the same time needs to act on the causes of our backwardness and go further to ensure the levels of development that have been systematically postponed and to raise living conditions.
But for both, the prescriptions cannot be the ones of the past!
The policies that are being put forward or are in progress, do not answer the problems of the present, or the problems of the future of the country.
We saw this in the so-called Economic and Social Stabilisation Programme and in the Government's Supplementary Budget proposal that supported it, which revealed, above all, a clear option to favour the interests of capital to whom millions and millions of euros are channelled. We also see this now when the government presents the first version of the programme that it calls of resilience and recovery with its options for the future.
The scale of the problems requires another answer. The PCP lives up to its responsibilities, its role and its commitments to the interests of the workers and people.
There is no point in brandishing threats of political crisis. What is needed is to take advantage of all instruments to prevent the workers and people from seeing their lives plunged into a daily crisis.
As it is not worth others rushing in to sentence that the PCP does not count, that it remains out of the solutions that the country needs.
And the PCP has already proved that it counts, it counts a lot and decisively, like no other, to ensure advances in the interest of popular classes and strata.
The PCP will not be absent, as it never did, from any solution that answers the problems, it will not waste any opportunity to guarantee rights and better living conditions.
It is on concrete and not on mere words of intent that the assessment of what needs to be done has to be based.
Therefore, at the start of the proceedings of the Assembly of the Republic, we will table a set of proposals that answer the serious problems that affect the lives of the workers and people.
Among the many initiatives we have under preparation, we will resume the fight to increase the National Minimum Wage to 850 euros; for the creation of a pay supplement for workers in essential and permanent services; for a hardship, risk and health allowance; compensation and recognition of social protection for those who work in shifts and at night; for expanding access to unemployment benefits and increasing their amounts and duration.
We will continue to fight for the elimination of wage cuts associated with the lay-off, for the prohibition of dismissals of all those who see their job threatened and not only in companies with profits.
The State Budget for 2021 must also address the most immediate, pressing and inevitable problems. It must assist those who have lost income with extraordinary support to guarantee living conditions to those whose activity is at risk, in particular supporting micro and small companies. It must provide the NHS with all the means to guarantee the provision of healthcare, to guarantee the reopening of the primary healthcare network, and due care to ensure the means of diagnosis, prevention and treatment not only of COVID, and to stop the handing of public money that is needed by the NHS to private groups that see disease as business.
But above all, what is required to respond to the problems that the country faces is another policy and other options, not all of which have a direct bearing on the State Budget, which create conditions for the development of the country.
Let there be no doubts.
The PCP will not only be there, but will fight for solutions to the country's problems.
Solutions with the PCP, as required for the valorisation of workers' careers, the general increase in wages, in the private and public sector, and of the National Minimum Wage to 850 euros.
Solutions with the PCP to repeal the grievous norms of the labour legislation in particular with the elimination of the expiry of collective bargaining and the restoration of the more favourable treatment, and not just what some identify as the changes imposed by the PSD/CDS government leaving untouched the grievous provisions that the PS government had imposed in 2007.
Solutions with the PCP for a determined path of public investment and application of EU funds in accordance with the national interest and not subject to impositions of the European Union and the interests of monopoly groups.
Solutions with the PCP for fiscal measures that combat fiscal injustice, unburden lower and middle incomes and duly tax large profits, fortunes and high-value assets.
Solutions with the PCP to expand social protection, reinforce protection against unemployment and sickness, improve family allowances, maintain and expand the pace of increase in pensions, while ensuring the diversification of Social Security funding sources.
Solutions with the PCP to continue the creation of a public network of daycare centres and launch a public network of nursing homes, taking advantage of the funds announced for Portugal.
Solutions with the PCP to include the launching of a state housing construction programme and improve the plan of transport pricing, establishing the regime of fare support and increasing the offer.
Solutions with the PCP to regain public control of strategic companies - starting with CTT Posts, Novo Banco and TAP - which are essential for the country's sovereign development.
There is little point in the statements by PS that it wants nothing with the PSD if the options it adopts are, more or less, those that the PSD would adopt, without severing the guidelines and commitments that have supported the right-wing policy. All the more so when the convergences between the two parties continue on relevant issues, part of a process of rearrangement of forces set in motion, and in which the current President of the Republic takes part, to whitewash the PSD aiming at its political rehabilitation and stronger cooperation with the PS, instrumental to the right-wing policy.
There is no solution to national problems or a response to the interests of the workers and people with the options of the PS government or with the reactionary projects that PSD, CDS and their proxy parties - Liberal Initiative and Chega - which have to be combated.
Portugal needs to affirm and materialise an alternative sovereign development project, freed from monopoly capital, capable of returning to the country what belongs to the country, its economy, its resources, the decision about its life and its future.
The alternative that does not waive ensuring the country's liberation from submission to the Euro, from guaranteeing the renegotiation of the public debt to free essential resources.
It needs to have the appropriate instruments in its hands and decide freely and not depend on the criteria and decisions of others.
It needs to have its own agenda that looks at the country's problems without conditionings or constraints, guaranteeing development, improving living conditions and environmental balance.
Portugal needs to keep in mind and not forget the important lessons that can be learned from the current situation and that cannot be ignored in the future: the importance of the role of workers and the centrality of work in society; the role of public services; the importance of national production and of having the strategic sectors in the hands of the country.
It needs an alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy that promotes the turning point in national life that is necessary!
We have ahead of us great tasks and important struggles that require strengthening and affirming this necessary and indispensable Party.
Faced with a difficult and worsening situation, the workers, pensioners, intellectuals and technical cadres, micro, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized farmers, the youth, women, people with disabilities can rely on the PCP. Against blackmail and intimidation, yesterday as today, we are the force of resistance, initiative, courage and confidence in the future. We say what needs to be said. We do what needs to be done. Here we have this Festival, here we have this memorable rally to prove it.
Here is our determination and the call to the workers to organise and fight, developing the ongoing actions, in the workplaces, in the companies, in the sectors, in the small and large initiatives of unity and convergence. A struggle in defence of immediate interests, a struggle for the alternative.
Here is our intervention in the Assembly of the Republic, in the European Parliament, in the Regional Legislative Assemblies and in the Local Administration, highlighting the initiatives that we are going to take in the Assembly of the Republic, following the unparalleled intervention of the PCP, with its more than two hundred legislative initiatives, aimed at ensuring improvements and advances in various sectors of national life.
Here is our determination in the battle for the Elections for President of the Republic with a candidacy that assumes the rights of the workers, the values of April and the commitment of the project that the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic enshrines but that is very far from being fulfilled, and in the elections for the Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region of the Azores, to uphold the interests of the workers and people of that Autonomous Region.
Here is our determination to strengthen the Party's organisation. Of this Party that, based on the militancy of its members, in the last difficult months has not abandoned the workers and the people and was where it was necessary to be acting, clarifying, supporting. Reinforcement of the organisation with the militancy, more people in charge and more company and workplace cells, development of local action, intensification of the work of information and propaganda and dissemination of Avante!, the financial independence of the Party, namely with the materialization of the National Campaign of Funds.
Strengthening of the Party that has to articulate with the dynamization of the intervention for immediate concrete objectives, for the alternative, for the advanced democracy with the values of April in the future of Portugal, for socialism.
We are entering the third and decisive phase of preparation of the XXI Congress of our Party, with the maximum participation of the militants, setting down guidelines and measures to respond to the situation, reaffirming the communist identity, the class nature, the supreme goals, the ideology, operating principles, patriotism and internationalism. Using the instruments that Marx and Engels created, the experience bequeathed by Lenin and the collective shaping up of the PCP with the unique contribution of Álvaro Cunhal, we will analyse the Portuguese and world situation and point out the ways of the future.
We hold our Festival at a time when we celebrate 100 years of PCP's life. We are a Party that always refused to be intimidated, however great the dangers, adversities, threats or persecutions.
Successive generations of communists faced the most difficult conditions to ensure the liberation of their people from all forms of exploitation and oppression. A Party whose death was declared a thousand times and which a thousand times emerged renewed, determined and convinced, leading the struggle of the workers and people.
The Portuguese Communist Party has a glorious and combative history that continues and will continue. In its proposals, in its goals, in its action, the well-being of the people and workers, freedom, democracy, a sovereign Portugal and the construction of a fairer society, without exploited or exploiters, have always been at the forefront.
So it was and it is today, with our alternative proposals to the right-wing policy.
And so it is in the face of the epidemic that we face and fight, setting an example with all the recommended precautionary health measures, making them operational on the grounds of our Avante! Festival and in all of our political, social and family activities.
The communists did everything and do everything to help solve the problems of the country, of the workers and people. They will do everything in the broad fight against COVID-19.
But they will not give in to real or instilled fear through an orchestrated panic that aims to isolate people, break class and social solidarity, so that the workers meekly accept sacrifices, abdicate or accept the limitation of their rights and conditions of work and life and even their freedom.
Because we are certain that, fighting vigorously the virus we face and many other diseases, obstacles and setbacks, only with great confidence in the future in our capacities and those of our people, and continuing to live with joy and hope our family social and cultural life, we will find the strength to continue on the path to a better and fairer world.
The pursuit of this path will be possible if the people, in particular the workers, do not allow themselves to be consigned to the “lockdown” in which some want to shut their demands and their struggles.
With hope and confidence in the present generations, in the youth and in the future, while not neglecting our attention and vigilance over real black clouds that can be seen on the horizon, we can also glimpse that humanity has never had or created so many potentialities in its history to materialize the dream of a fair society, without exploited or exploiters, as in the times we live in.
We just need to never give up and continue to strive for this goal, because it is possible and necessary.
In this time of celebrating the Centennial of our Party, here we reaffirm the validity of the communist ideal and project, the necessary, indispensable and irreplaceable role of this Party whose history, instead of being spent in the past, is projected on the horizon.
There were those who thought that with lies and affront we would lower our arms. They saw the answer. This Rally and this Festival are marked by the capacity, organisation, responsibility, courage and confidence.
That was how the PCP was born!
That is how it fights for almost 100 years!
That is how, honouring the history and commitments we have always had, we leave from here, aware of the demands we face, determined in action, confident of the future.
Long live internationalist solidarity!
Long live the youth and the JCP!
Long live the Avante! Festival!
Long live the Portuguese Communist Party!