A DELEGATION of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) led by its general secretary Sitaram Yechury and comprising Harsev Bains, secretary of the Association of Indian Communists (CPI(M), Great Britain, visited Portugal on September 18-20, for a bilateral discussion with the Communist Party of Portugal (PCP). The delegation had in-depth discussions with PCP delegation led by general secretary of the PCP, Jeronimo de Sousa and Polit Bureau members, Pedro Guerreiro and Angelo Alves. CPI(M) delegation had a separate discussion with PCP International Department.
Yechury thanked the PCP for the invitation and the historic value of our relationship post the collapse of the Soviet Union. The success of the International Meeting of the Communist Parties in Kolkata, 1993, for providing a framework for solidarity and coordination was a clear manifestation of this understanding.
He outlined the CPI(M)’s perspective on the intense crisis of global capitalism and the meltdown of the financial institutions in 2008. To divert the popular discontentment, there is a political shift to the right, as seen in the rise of Donald Trump, Le Pen etc. To counter this, new Left formations are emerging to meet the challenge of the right-ward political shift. This is also happening in India.
The wide ranging discussions concentrated on the developments and growing contradictions in the imperialist camp; India’s deteriorating relations with its neighbours; the changes in India’s foreign policy with shift from the Non-Aligned Movement to a junior partner in the USA strategic alliance. They also covered the debates around the European Union project, with its political, economic and militarist aspirations; the impasse in UK exit from EU scheduled for March 2019 and the implications of the Ireland border; imperialist aggression in Syria, and the internationalist movement in Latin America, Brazil, Cuba and Venezuela specifically. China, Russia and the DPRK were also some of the topics covered.
Yechury underlined that there is a need for us to work closer against this right-ward political shift and US imperialism in order to challenge it at a global level and to strengthen the anti-neoliberal struggles. The PCP shared the views expressed by him.
Pedro Guerreiro said, “May be we have different formulations, but our analysis is converging. For instance the PCP analysis describes the “systemic failure of capitalism” as the “structural crisis of capitalism” with heightened intensity of exploitation and oppressive nature giving rise to fascist forces, for example in Latin America against the Bolivarian movements and in the middle east. The PCP sees these as different forms of expression.
The PCP also recognises the rivalry and merging of contradictions in the imperialist camp. The realignment of forces taking place globally may have declined the influence of the US, but has not stopped it from being the largest. Under Donald Trump’s presidency there is continuing growth of the US imperialism’s tendency to clash with countries asserting sovereignty, clashing with international regulations and violating UN resolutions. It is not just a matter of inter conflict of imperialism, for instance in Syria. It is an aggression- threat by US imperialism, its offensive. How to challenge this offensive? The PCP agrees that this requires us to work closer.
US imperialism is resorting to war by creating confrontations and increasing nuclear threats. There is a need to build international resistance and struggle to challenge this offensive. No country is immune. From the economic blockade of Cuba, Venezuela, DPRK, Iran and Brazil, the attack is broad. The PCP has three members in the European parliament.
In a general observation, Angelo Alves opined that with the concentration of power, the EU and some European national governments are using the rise of the right to disguise the imposition of reactionary policies.
Following a lengthy interview of Yechury with Avante, the weekly party organ of the PCP, a dinner was held in the company of Albano Nunes, former head of the international department.
The next day was set aside for a meeting with Jeronimo de Sousa who was also a former trade union leader, a metal worker and is a serving member of parliament for forty years.
Jeronimo de Sousa welcomed the delegation and recalled with pride the cooperation and understanding developed by the former leaders of the CPI(M) and the PCP, Comrades Harkishan Singh Surjeet and Alvaro Cunhal. He recognised the role of these colossal giants in bringing together our parties and in regrouping the international communist movement following the collapse of the Soviet Union. “This is a unique opportunity to deepen our understanding, our views to further strengthen the relationship of our parties.”
Portugal in its general elections based on proportional representation in 2015 obtained the following results.
The people of Portugal had voted to remove the Social Democratic Party (PSD/CDS coalition). For four years the people had lived through a very dramatic and traumatic situation. Erosion of workers’ rights, end of social support and privatisation of the public sector were implemented as a directive of the IMF, EU Commission and the Central Bank. As a result of the long and persistent struggle by workers, the government lost its huge majority in parliament.
Post elections, PCP analysed the new correlation of forces in the parliament. First, the PCP took note of the defeat of the PSD, second, decided to remove the PSD/CDS government and prevent it from regaining power and finally came up with a fundamental idea as a game changer to remove the right wing government and invite the Socialist Party to form the next government, stating that the Socialist Party will not govern if it does not want to. This took the Socialist Party by surprise, as they had already conceded defeat and greeted the previous government for coming first under the PR system. After consideration, a minority socialist government was formed with the support of the Left Bloc and the PCP from the outside.
Jeronimo de Sousa stated that the PCP had made a commitment to the people. “The first commitment of the PCP was to the workers and people of Portugal, we would support all positive policies for the restoration of workers’ rights, increase in wages, social support, stopping privatisation etc,” he said.
Telling similarities amongst the people in India wishing to remove the NDA/BJP/RSS government began to emerge. The parallels provided a sense of reassurance. We are not the only ones facing difficult choices. In Portugal, there were also those who thought that the PCP should not support the Socialist Party. However, once the PCP engaged on the path of restoration of increasing workers income and rights, improving social welfare, measures valued by the workers, the apprehensions disappeared. The workers gained new energies. Primary victories for the workers after four years of struggles provided a new dynamism. After four years of erosion in workers’ rights, social economic advances took place. This confirmed and validated the PCP position, that it doesn’t just prop up the government, but supports the positive policies and opposes the negative policies of the Socialist Party.
The PCP called for a break with the policies and impositions of the EU and for a Patriotic and Left-wing alternative. For strengthening the party organisation, it emphasised recruiting new members in work places and increasing mass activities in the social and electoral field.
In the words and ethos of the PCP waging workers struggles, “It may be difficult but not impossible”.