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Portugal's Communists say: "The struggle continues"

Dec 20, 2008

The 1,400-plus delegates at the 18th Congress of the Portuguese Communist Party, and the thousands of other PCP militants invited to observe, made it clear that in this one corner of imperialist Europe there is a living, breathing combat organization with roots in every laboring and productive section of society.

Communist delegates showed close<br>ties to working class. Lisbon, Dec. 1.

Communist delegates showed close
ties to working class. Lisbon, Dec. 1.
photo: John Catalinotto

From Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, the delegates and observers filled the one-time bullring called Campo Pequeno here in Lisbon. The delegates’ task was to review, amend or accept the hundreds of “theses” in the party program that had been in discussion since last February, and to elect a new central committee and leadership. This it did, with near unanimity.

According the PCP reports, the youngest delegate was 16 and the oldest 93. More than 60 percent were leaders of mass organizations like unions and women’s, youth, fishers, immigrants, professional and community groups. Another 36 percent were elected officials, mostly in local governments of cities, towns and other local subdivisions.

After PCP Secretary-General Jeronimo de Sousa—who was later re-elected to this post—opened the political discussion with a general view of the situation in the world, in Europe and in Portugal, there followed a series of concise contributions by dozens of other leaders of the party and mass organizations. Many evoked standing, fist-raised chants from the delegates of “PCP! PCP!” or cries of “The struggle continues!” (“A luta continua!”) Their obvious dedication to the 60,000-member party and the workers’ struggle in general was inspiring to any observer trying to build a similar organization.

While welcoming all the international guests, the delegates gave their strongest applause to the statements from the Communist Party of Cuba and from Fretilin, the liberation organization of East Timor, which was once a colony of Portuguese imperialism before the anti-fascist “April Revolution” of 1974.

The capitalist crisis

Far from a routine discussion, this one took place at an early phase in what Marxist analysts worldwide, including the PCP comrades, see as a systemic crisis of capitalism, one that can’t be resolved by reformist programs or by waiting and enduring a year or two. To overcome the crisis, the working class must take control of the means of production and planning, that is, it must make changes leading toward socialism.

Yet, because of the continued damage from the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the workers’ movement worldwide, and especially in the imperialist countries of Western Europe, North America and Japan, is unable to put socialist transformation on the agenda.

Even defensive victories come hard. For example, more than 120,000 of the 200,000 Portuguese teachers gathered in Lisbon Nov. 8 for a magnificent demonstration to defend their rights. Yet the government, led by the “Socialist Party” leader Jose Socrates—a socialist in name alone—chose to ignore this tremendous protest and insist it would continue to impose anti-teacher, anti-student “reforms.”

How then to continue to defend workers’ interests while preparing for a struggle that can change society?

As another PCP leader, Albano Nunes, said in his talk to the Congress, “The PCP never vacillated in its devotion to a socialist and communist ideal. Neither the hardest blows from the fascist dictatorship, nor the devastating advance of the Nazi hordes in the homeland of the soviets, nor the dramatic divisions and conflicts in the international communist movement, nor the defeats of socialism in the USSR and Eastern Europe two decades ago has shaken us of this conviction.”

Nunes added, “As a requirement of our epoch that the October Revolution [Russia, 1917] inaugurated and that we will again make a reality in Portugal, it will be necessary to strengthen our party and to persist confidently in the struggle in defense of the aspirations of the workers and the people without ever losing of sight of our glorious and beautiful ideal.”

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UPDATED Dec 29, 2008 11:20 AM
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