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
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”
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