15TH INTERNATIONAL MEETING OF COMMUNIST & WORKERS’ PARTIES
Strengthen the Struggles for Socialist Alternative R Arun Kumar THE 15th Meeting of the Communist and Workers' Parties was held in Lisbon, Portugal. The Portuguese Communist Party made excellent arrangements for hosting this meeting, which was held for the second time in Portugal. The meeting was inaugurated by Jeronimo de Sousa, general secretary of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP). Welcoming the participants of the meeting representing the various Communist and Workers' Parties from around the world, and dwelling on the importance of these meetings, he said: “We are here to exchange information and experiences, to bring up to date our assessments of the complex international reality and of the main trends in international developments; to become better acquainted, with greater mutual understanding and stronger relations of friendship and solidarity between our Parties; to define lines and initiatives of cooperation and common or converging action”. Jeronimo de Sousa in his address mentioned about the impact of the global capitalist crisis on the Portuguese society and the struggles carried out by the PCP. He said the situation is 'very difficult and dangerous for the rights of the workers' and that the government is getting increasingly isolated and discredited from the people. It is in this background, stating “there is no alternative without the PCP and much less so, against the PCP”, he mentioned their efforts to “strengthen the Party, by increasing its ranks, rooting it in the workplaces and shop floors and strengthening its links with the masses”. He reiterated the commitment of the PCP towards the international communist movement and said: “the more our Party is rooted in our national reality and the more it is committed to its class and national duties, which are inseparable in the Portuguese revolutionary process, the greater will be our internationalist contribution”. Three rounds of discussions were held during the course of the meeting. In the first round, all the participants intervened by sharing their analysis of the contemporary world developments and the experiences of struggles in their countries against the ruling class attacks. The Communist Parties from the Latin American countries shared their experience in the fight against imperialism’s offensive and the role of the progressive governments in the region. It was mentioned that more than $550 billion were spent by the Venezuelan government in health, education, culture, sports, housing and other needs of the social sector; Uruguay increased the real wages of its workers by 19 percent; pensions, salaries and collective negotiations improved substantially in Argentina and in Brazil more than 50 million people came out of poverty. They also mentioned that everywhere poverty indices had fallen, extreme poverty, unemployment and illiteracy reduced and health indicators saw an overall improvement. Stating that the world today is undergoing profound and complicated changes, the Communist Party of China said it is moving towards “multi-polarity”. In their intervention they mentioned, “There are signs of increasing hegemonism, power politics and neo-interventionism” in the international developments which is “presenting rare opportunities and daunting challenges for the development of socialism”. They further stated: “the international financial crisis had flung capitalism into a structural dilemma” and that “the development model of neo-liberalism can no longer sustain itself, bearing out the need for a change and readjustment”. Commenting on the international situation, they noted: “Some capitalist countries have stepped up efforts to scramble for dominance over the new round of industrial revolution and globalisation and a headstart in reshaping international rules, so as to restrict the space of development and discourse of socialism via inequitable competition, irrational order and unfair rules. Therefore we communists must be united to pursue our own development through cooperation”. On the situation in their country, they said their Party is “confronted with increasingly grave dangers of lacking in drive, incompetence, being out of touch with the people, corruption and other misconduct”. Quoting their Party general secretary, they stated that the Party is “looking into the mirror” to “tidy our attire, take a bath and cure our sickness”. They ended their intervention by stating that the CPC is “committed to strengthening exchanges and dialogues with communist parties, workers' parties and other progressive forces of various countries to share experience in governing the Party and the country, to explore ways to address global challenges and to promote the continuous development of the cause of socialism in the world”. The Communist Party of Egypt in its intervention stated: “The June 30 revolution came to accomplish the historical tasks of this unfinished revolution which are overdue, especially after the wave of overall reactionary apostasy that swept Egypt and the region since the mid-seventies and lasted for more than 30 years and what happened during the collapse of the Arab liberation movement as well as the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of current religious fascist rightist trend under authoritarian regimes perched on the breath of our people for decades”. Analysing the events post June 30, they stated: “it is a democratic revolution establishing a democratic civil State on the basis of a constitution protecting freedoms and political economic, social and cultural rights of citizens and ensuring popular control and participation as well as freedom to form political parties, trade unions and associations with an emphasis on separating religion from politics and prohibition of religious parties”. According to them, it is a “decisive stage of the stages of the national democratic revolution” and what “happened was a popular revolution with which the Egyptian army sided”. Stating that the “policies of the transitional government are still far from the spirit of this revolutionary transformation”, they said that this situation needs to be corrected immediately, “because to continue in this situation, hesitation and slowdown would lead to erosion and weakening of revolution and give chance to opponents and enemies to gradually regain their balance”. This, according to them, necessitates “effective presence and unified efforts of the Egyptian leftist forces” and that they are trying to accelerate the pace of unity and “form a unified leadership of the socialist parties as the first necessary and urgent step required in the current circumstances”. The second round of discussions centred on the joint declaration proposed by the PCP. Though most of the Parties present in the meeting agreed to the proposal, some of the Parties felt that the declaration does not reflect their understanding and analysis of the international developments. As one of the important guiding principles of the meeting is consensus and on this issue there is a lack of consensus, a joint declaration was not issued. Instead the PCP had issued a press release. There was also a discussion on the proposal for joint actions on some of the issues, which was accepted by all the Parties present in the meeting (both the texts are printed in this issue). The third round of discussions were on the methodology of the meetings – which parties should be made part of the meeting, what should be the composition of the Working Group (presently it constitutes of 11 parties, open to all the parties that take part in these meetings and is not a leading body but a facilitating body) and what should be the format of these meetings in the future. After an intense discussion, it was decided that more time is needed to decide these issues and was mandated that the Working Group will decide these issues thoroughly and come out with some proposals before the next meeting, the 16th International Meeting of the Communist and Workers' Parties. The meeting concluded with a massive public manifestation commemorating the birth centenary of Comrade Alvaro Cunhal, the legendary revolutionary, anti-fascist fighter and leader of the PCP who was born on November 10. Earlier, all the participants in the International Meeting paid homage to Comrade Cunhal and saluted his memory during their interventions. Four rallies that started from different parts of Lisbon, converged at a huge arena in the heart of the city, where a musical concert representing the famous Victor Jara band and other artists performed. Jeronimo de Sousa, addressed the gathering, in the presence of the entire leadership of the PCP and the participants of the International Meeting.