Allow me, first of all, on behalf of the Portuguese Communist Party and its delegation here, to greet our hosts of this 12th International Meeting, the South African Communist Party.

We wish to thank you for the hospitality with which your are welcoming us in Tshwane and for the conditions that you have created for the success of our International Meeting.

Meeting for the first time in the African continent and in South Africa, the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties completes and important stage which, in a few years, led us from Europe to the territories of the former Soviet Union, to Latin America, to the Middle East (with the extraordinary meeting), to Asia, and now to Africa.

This was, in our opinion, a period in which our International Meetings became stronger, broader and acquired greater political importance and visibility. A period in which several Parties became involved and shouldered the responsability of organizing the International Meetings, ensuring their success.

During this period, there were positive steps – despite shortcomings – in the collective preparatory work and in the collective assessment of its main conclusions. We have made progress in the mutual acquaintance of our Parties, in identifying the many aspects which unite us, as well as in those issues or aspects where we have different and diversified points of view.

We have also taken steps forward, even if to a clearly insufficient degree, in undertaking joint or converging action, which is one of the key goals of our Meetings, to which we must continue devoting all our attention.

Despite debilities and instability which still affects the international communist and revolutionary movement, despite the diversity of conditions and concrete situations in which we must act, despite delays in identifying and materializing our joint or convergent action, despite the diverse experiences, levels of assessment and points of view – despite all this – we are living up to the task of jointly making dynamic a process which, based on mutual respect and the sovereignty and independence of each Party, seeks to strengthen our movement, based upon each of our Parties’ forces and, in so doing, to also strengthen all our Parties and their activity. We think that this represents, in itself, an important victory.

We are meeting in Africa, a continent that has been violently scourged by the effects of colonialism, and where imperialist crimes take on a particularly violent and scandalous dimension. Millions of human beings are pushed into the daily individual struggle for survival, and at the same time have their class consciousness lulled by the charity and aid businesses, which represent a key element of the ideological offensive in Africa.

A continent that is today the target of powerful maneouvres of interference and neo-colonialism, offensives seeking to plunder its natural resources, to exploit its fertile soil, to selectively exploit its human resources, to deny it the right to development and to subvert the achievements of the national liberation struggle – whether through powerful and complex mechanisms of economic, political, military, ideological and supposedly "environmental" control by imperialism, or by the increasingly frequent association of national bourgeoisies with big foreign capital, in what is a key element in the strategy and interests of imperialism, namely of the former colonial powers.

It is because we are familiar with the difficult objective and subjective conditions which the Communists and other progressive forces of this continent face, as well as with the complexity of the challenges that lie ahead, that we view this International Meeting with a particular expression of solidarity and friendhsip with our African comrades and, in particular with the South African Communist Party, a decisive force in the South African people’s victory against apartheid and for the fulfillment of the goals of the democratic and national revolution.

Solidarity with the struggles that you are waging and with your efforts to – based on the heroic history of the national liberation movements – carry forward progressive and revolutionary liberation processes, and to strengthen the ties between the Communists and other progressive forces, thereby building and strengthening an anti-imperialist movement capable of confronting the attacks and threats which fall upon the African peoples, their rights and the sovereignty of their countries.

We convey this friendship and solidarity in a very special manner, on this 50th anniversary of the beginning of the African continent’s formal decolonization. In previous International Meetings we analysed capitalism’s crisis and we warned about its predictable developments. The facts are there to confirm this analysis, thereby proving the validity and remarkable relevance of Marxism-Leninism for the understanding of the capitalist system’s workings.

The developments in the world economy are today marked by the continuation and deepening of the crisis; by a profound and long recession in the capitalist Triad; by volatility in the financial sector; by a succession of vicious circles of looting public money to assist big capital, crises of sovereign debt and the imposition of anti-social and anti-national policies – namely in Europe – as well as by growing economic and monetary tensions world-wide.

These traits confirm the scenario of a profound and prolonged economic crisis of overproduction and over-accumulation, in a vivid expression of capitalism’s structural and systemic crisis. The crisis, however, also expresses itself at other levels, namely food, energy and the environment, with possible sudden developments that will have unpredictable consequences for the lives of the peoples of so-called developing countries.

This crisis is very visibly marked by key aspects of capitalism’s workings, namely its uneven development, and is becoming more acute in a framework of changing international relations characterized by the decline of the main capitalist power (the USA) and by the emergence of new economic powers.

This is not a context in which there is a confrontation between two antagonistic blocs, but one in which some of the countries that are at the forefront of these changes – and which, objectively speaking, are in a collision course with the main capitalist powers – are involved in progressive processes of asserting their sovereignty, or define the edification of socialism as their goal.

But if events are bringing into the limelight capitalism’s historic limits, its contradictions and the potential for the struggle, it is also true that the balance of forces is still profoundly unfavorable for the forces of labour and of progress. Capital’s economic, political and media power is used to carry out a violent anti-social, oppressive and ideological offensive against the workers and the peoples, and against the sovereignty of the States.

The main capitalist powers – in particular the USA and the directorate of powers of the European Union – are embarking upon a militaristic and securitarian course, as can be seen in the intensification of the imperialist war, notably in Afghanistan, the proliferation of hotbeds of tension and the provocations throughout the world and, in a particularly serious way, in the conclusions of NATO’s Lisbon Summit and the adoption of a new strategic concept by this aggressive military alliance. A course that shatters any illusions, regarding either the Nobel Prize-winning Obama, or the purported "independence" of the European Union vis a vis NATO, which is as false as it is impossible.

We are confronted with a dangerous leap in the dark of a system that is intent on bringing about a historic regression in the rights of the workers and peoples, in advancing even further with the concentration and centralization of capital and of political power and with containing the workers’ and peoples’ resistance – whether ideologically, by overwhelming consciousnesses with the theory of the "inevitabilities", or by force, through a new wave of repression and the attempts to criminalize the resistance.

A leap into the dark that is characterized by ever increasing onslaughts and attacks against democracy, and where the rehabilitation of fascism and anti-communism play an important role. A leap in the dark which, in economic terms, was clearly visible during the last G20 meeting, where, in the context of growing economic and monetary tensions, what emerged was the fact that, within the framework of capitalism, there are no real fundamental solutions for the current crisis and, on the other hand, the reaffirmation of policies that lie at very root of the crisis and which are in themselves, as has already been widely proved, the seeds of further crises.

This leap into the dark is taking place very quickly and with expressions in all regions of the world. Portugal is no exception. Together with other countries of the so-called periphery of Europe, the Portuguese situation is a clear example of what we have just said.

Submerged in a profound crisis that is the outcome of decades of anti-social policies, of the destruction of the productive apparatus and of national surrender, following Portugal’s entry into the European Union, our country is now the target of powerful maneuvers of blackmail and economic colonization, that are undertaken to serve the interests of big capital, that are spearheaded by the decision-making centers of the European Union and by the directorate of the powers in its midst, but which count with the active participation, in Portugal, of a government led by the Socialist Party (the social democracy Party in Portugal).

Invoking the hypocritical need to "calm" the "markets", the Government, with the support of the President of the Republic and of the right-wing Parties, have, after providing many millions to the banks, stepped up the most serious onslaught against the rights of the workers and the people since the [1974] April 25th [Revolution], pushing the country into even greater economic dependence and economic crisis and handing over the remaining aspects of our national sovereignty. With the threat of bringing in the IMF, they are now trying force the workers into surrender, fear and resignation.

But the fact is that what the social-democratic government has been doing is no different from the EU and IMF recipes. The result, as the case of Ireland clearly shows, can only be an even worse situation, and the workers have begun to understand this. That is why they have just given an exemplary response to the blackmail and vicious circle into which they are being dragged, staging one of the biggest general strikes in Portugal’s History, a general strike convened by the class Trade Union central (CGTP/IN), on November 24 and in which over 3 million workers took part, that is, over 70% of Portuguese workers.

Comrades, The situation in countries like Greece, Ireland and Portugal make it necessary to further the analysis on the issue of the European Union. The way in which the superstructure of European capitalism is behaving in the midst of the crisis and the profound changes which the Lisbon Treaty introduced, confirm a speedy process based on the European Union’s three pillars – neoliberalism, militarism and federalism – which seeks to edify an imperialist bloc in Europe, at the expense of the rights of the workers and peoples, of the sovereignty and right to development of the peoples, and even at the expense of democracy.

The profound social crisis which is spreading throughout Europe, the prevalence of the power of monopolies over the power of the institutions, the ultra-liberal and federalist leap forward which the EU institutions are undergoing and the political and institutional contradictions in its midst, which are quickly becoming ever more acute, are the expression of the concentration of political and economic power, of the crushing of rights and of the national sovereignty of European States.

But they are also elements which reveal in a vividly clear way the objective limits of the European Union. They show that this European Union cannot be reformed and that the construction of a different Europe, of the workers and the peoples, must necessarily be made upon the ruins of the current European Union.

In this struggle, it will be necessary to assert the European peoples’ sovereign right to economic and social development. Once again, it is being proved that the struggle to defend the peoples’ sovereignty is an important element in the struggle for social and class emancipation, a fact that is also clearly in evidence in other continents, such as Latin America.

Comrades, We were right when, two years ago, we warned about the possibility of a force-based response by capitalism to its own crisis. It is now under our gaze, on an economic and social level. It is a political, ideological, media-based, military, repressive response which attacks the peoples’ sovereignty. Everything indicates that the situation will deteriorate even further, because the context is one of an evermore profound structural crisis.

At the same time, albeit still to an insufficient degree, there is mounting peoples’ struggle (Greece, Portugal, Spain, France, etc.); there is resistance by the peoples who are the victims of imperialist aggressions and interference, namely in the Middle East and Asia; progressive struggles for sovereign development in Latin America, but also here in Africa; the anti-imperialist struggle and the struggle against militarism (a recent high-point of which was in Lisbon, during the NATO Summit).

All these are important points and elements of resistance which must be duly highlighted. The tasks in which we have all been involved are of great complexity and very demanding. In our country we have been demanding of our Party every joule of its strength and energy, steadfastness of principles together with the necessary tactical flexibility and, above all, a profound and permanent bond with the workers and the people, attempting to constantly expand the front of resistance to the multi-faceted offensive with which we are confronted. In so doing, we are also attempting to expand the social front of struggle which can go beyond resistance and move towards building an alternative.

In our opinion, there are no quick, easy and universal solutions in this context. On the contrary. But it is also true that the situation opens up prospects that we should not underestimate. If the increasingly profound imperialist offensive involves major risks, it is equally true that it leads to a broadening and diversification of forces which objectively adopt anti-imperialist and patriotic positions.

It is up to us, Communists, to contribute to extend and radicalize the anti-imperialist front, as an essential factor to defeat the opportunist and obscurantist forces which attempt to instrumentalize genuine feelings of popular revolt, thereby achieving a positive change in the balance of forces, in the context of an increasingly acute class struggle.

This is, in our opinion, the course which may lead towards broad anti-monopoly and anti-imperialist social alliances that can, not just develop the resistance struggle, but also move ahead in the struggle for power, to win over power and thereby advance profound progressive transformations.

For this, the existence of strong Communist Parties with real mass influence, with their organization, independence and ideology, is a fundamental condition, together with the strengthening of our cooperation and solidarity. In other words, in our opinion, a stronger and more radical anti-imperialist front goes hand in hand with a stronger Communist and revolutionary movement.

For this end, special attention must be given to the relation which exists between the resistance struggle and the necessary ideological offensive. This is a highly important issue today, and neither aspect can be neglected. The objective conditions for the development of the revolutionary struggle clearly exist. This makes the significant shortcomings in the subjective factor more visible. We need to further our debate on this issue.

We are clearly trying to do what is most important: develop and stimulate the struggle, involve the masses in the various fronts of struggle, in particular the social struggle and the anti-imperialist struggle, and to strengthen our Parties. But we must also further our analysis of the need to develop political awareness among the masses.

We must reflect on how to raise awareness among the masses, and especially the youth, regarding the intimate relations between the social struggle, the anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly and anti-capitalist struggle, and the construction of the alternative. We need to reflect on how to give greater visibility to the alternative of socialism, without falling into voluntarist solutions or a verbalism that is disconnected with the existing conditions and strength.

Last year, we defined the major lines of action for our Parties, centered on the social struggle, the struggle for peace, the youth struggle. It is with pleasure that today the PCP can state that in our activity we did our utmost to give expression, in Portugal, to the decisions that we took.

It is with particular joy that we end this PCP statement by wishing, through you, through your youth organizations, great success for the forthcoming 17th World Festival of Youth and Students which will begin in a few days’ time, here in South Africa.