At the great closing rally of the 30th edition of the "Avante!" Festival, JerÃ³nimo de Sousa, General Secretary of the PCP, addressed the main issues of the current national and international affairs and also the matters concerning the strengthening and intervention of the PCP.
On the national political scene, the General Secretary of the PCP underlined the coincidence, on essential matters, between the objectives and the policies of the PS [Socialist Party] and the previous PSD/CDS-PP [Social Democratic Party/Popular Party], and warned about the worrisome intentions to intensify and broaden the offensive of social and political regression undertaken by the present PS government, stressing the fact that this global offensive aims to adulterate the fundamental characteristics of the constitutional regime created by the April Revolution, namely through the imposition of new limitations on the plurality of the political activity and intervention. JerÃ³nimo de Sousa reaffirmed the proposals for an increase in wages and pensions as a factor of social justice and a stimulus to the development of the country and referred to the initiative "Portugal needs, the PCP proposes", which gives great importance to the problems of the country and proposes alternatives.
Underlining that the anti-popular offensive has a strong and coherent opponent in PCP, JerÃ³nimo de Sousa stressed the launching of PCP’s National Campaign on the right to retirement and worthy pensions and in defence of public, universal and solidary social security, and also the action and support of the communists to the struggles of the public administration workers and those of other areas of activity and to the struggles of the populations in defence of their interests and the development of their regions.
He expressed the support of the communists to the great action of General Protest for a change in policies to be held on 12 October, an initiative summoned by CGTP [General Confederation of Portuguese Workers] which will congregate various trade union and popular struggles, with strikes, work stoppages and a great national meeting in Lisbon.
On the Party front, the General Secretary reminded the stimulating effect of the XVII Congress and referred to the fine electoral results in the legislative, local government and presidential elections and the present moment in which the Party registers the highest number of new memberships in the last 15 years, guarantying the continuation of the efforts to ensure the success of 2006 as the year of the Party’s reinforcement.
Here is a part of the speech by JerÃ³nimo de Sousa devoted to international issues:
The world we live in is presently faced with issues of crucial importance for the future of Humanity. Today, the multifaceted and violent imperialist offensive stands clear. Faced with its irremediable contradictions and its historic limits, capitalism resorts to the jost brutal and perverse means to try to submit the peoples, contain emerging resistances and ensure its hegemonic domination.
Militarism and war are concrete expressions of a profound economic, social, political and cultural crisis of the dominating system, revealing in practice the failure of capitalism’s triumphal discourseÂ and ofÂ the end of History.
Contrary to the idea of a world of well-being and peace under the banner of capitalism, trumpeted for a decade and half since the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the truth is that today the peoples around
the world live under more injustice, more insecurity and less democracy, in a situation that holds great dangers to Humanity and that confirms Socialism as a necessary alternative to capitalism.
The offensive by imperialism has recently witnessed new and dangerous developments in the Middle East with Israel’s brutal aggression against Lebanon. A war whose real objectives are embodied in the projects of imperialist domination of the Middle East and Central Asia and which have been long in preparation. A war that cannot be disconnected from the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, in which the USA and its supporters are facing a growing popular resistance.
We are well acquainted with the North American neo-conservatives’ plans for the Middle East and this aggression is a crime that, in a wider project, aims not only the Lebanese people, but also the sovereign countries and peoples of the region, as is the case of Syria and Iran.
That is why we have criticized the standpoints and resolutions by the United Nations, namely its Security Council which, concealing the war crimes and crimes against Humanity by Israel, did not demand an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal by the Israeli army. These standpoints objectively contribute to the whitewashing of the Israeli aggression while, at the same time, adopting measures like sending a so-called international force to Lebanon which, under the present circumstances and its mandate, will only serve the interests of the aggressor and, in a broader way, those of capitalism.
Besides, how is it possible to accept resolutions that completely ignore the central issue in the Middle East, the Palestinian issue? For decades the Palestinian people have been denied their inalienable right to build their independent, sovereign and viable State. For decades Israel has been allowed to tear up agreements and trample upon UN resolutions.
We are now witnessing heralds Â like the Socialist Party government Â with pious dissertations that try to justify the growth of military missions around the world, claiming the need to re-launch the role of the UN and the compliance of its resolutions.
But, because some of them are those who do not hesitate to set aside international law and the United Nations Charter in other issues; because some of them are exactly those who remain silent when faced with the continuous disrespect of the UN resolutions by countries like Israel or the USA; because they are those who defend European militarization and the widening and strengthening of NATO, we have to question: under these conditions, with this co-relationship of forces, what is the role of the UN, hostage to the pressures and blackmail by the world’s main military powers?
Since long we have been warning about the need for a real democratization of the UN, free from the imperialist chains that bind it. What we needed is not more soldiers spread around the world. What we needed is an emphasis on a new policy of international relations among sovereign and equal in rights countries based upon the principle of non-interference and steered towards the dissolution of political and military blocs. But this discourse around the UN has also another aspect,Â that which demands a more active role for "Europe" and which has in the Socialist Party one of its staunchest supporters.
That is why it is important to clarify a subject: what Europe are we talking about? Because this is the "Europe" of the European Union of the Stability Pact, of the Lisbon Strategy and of the Bolkestein Directive, which serves here as an excuse for neo-liberal policies of an anti-social nature, with the devastating effects that we all know. This is the Europe which through the so-called European constitution tries to take away more sovereignty from the people and the countries and impoverish democracy. This is the same Europe that champions its militarization in coordination with the USA through NATO. Not a different one!
We affirm here today that the only position in harmony with a real defense of peace and the peaceful resolution of the conflicts in the Middle East is the opposition to the participation of Portugal in a multinational force in Lebanon that may signify anything but the maintenance of Peace!
And we demand a reversal in Portuguese foreign policy. A reversal that puts an end to the shameful subservience to the diktats of the great powers, well patent in the permission given to the CIA planes and Israeli flights that have used the national territory and our air space to feed the Israeli war machine. A foreign policy that detaches Portugal from a series of episodes that bind it to some of the darkest chapters of Humanity’s recent History.
This is why we give so much importance to the struggle of the peace movement in Portugal and to the solidarity with the resistance of the peoples.
Here, from this beautiful Festival, we wish to express our solidarity to all those who, around the five continents, carry out their heroic and unselfish struggle. Solidarity with the peoples of Africa, and in particular with the people of Western Sahara who continue their struggle for self determination and independence.
Solidarity with the workers and the peoples of Europe, and in particular, with the people and the communists of Cyprus who pursue the struggle for the peaceful unification of their island and the communists who, once again, face political persecution ofÂ a fascist type, as in the Czech Republic.
Solidarity with the peoples of the Middle East and Central Asia, with the peoples of Iraq, of Palestine and Lebanon and, in particular, with the Lebanese Communist Party, which recently saw seven of its young militants courageously give their life in combat against the Israeli aggressor.
Solidarity with the peoples of Latin America who, under various conditions carry out very rich experiences of collective participation and construction of alternatives to neo-liberalism, as is the case of Venezuela and Bolivia. And, of course, Cuba. Socialist Cuba.
At a time when enemies of Cuba exploit the current health of Comandante Fidel Castro, inventing new and renewed forms of interference against Cuba, from this rostrum we would like to affirm two sincere things: that here in Portugal, the friends of Cuba, the Portuguese Communist Party, will try their best to fight against these maneuvers. And, secondly, certainly expressing the feelings of all of you present, send Comrade Fidel Castro a collective wish of a quick recovery, comrade!
But also solidarity with the countries, peoples and parties that, as is the case of East Timor, its people and FRETILIN, showed the world that it is worthwhile to resist and struggle. To the people of East Timor and to FRETILIN, we affirm our strong solidarity and our determination to contribute in order to prevent that, in the country, where a heroic struggle gave birth to the youngest nation in the world, History will not suffer a setback in the hands of foreign and internal interests that are far removed from the aspirations of the heroic Timorese people.
In an international context marked by instability, but also by real possibilities of progressive advances, the PCP, a patriotic and internationalist party, carries out an activity dedicated to the strengthening of the international communist and revolutionary movement. It is with pride and a feeling of responsibility that from here, from the Atalaia grounds, we announce the organisation in Portugal, this coming November, of an International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties, gathering parties from all over the world in our country.
With confidence that the future of Humanity belongs, in fact, to the peoples of the world, from this rostrum we reaffirm to Portugal and to the communists and progressive peoples of the four corners of the world present here today, that the struggle continues, comrades!