Álvaro Cunhal, May 2nd, 1950
Source: Translated for marxists.org from original in the Selected Works of Alvaro Cunhal, published by the Portuguese Communist Party;
Translated: from the Portugese by Isabel O'Sullivan;
Transcribed: by Filip Diniz;
At the beginning of the trial, the presiding judge called upon the defendants’ identity. Then, addressing Alvaro Cunhal, he says:
Judge – Are you acquainted with your accusation? Have you anything to say regarding your own defense?
AC- Yes. Before this court I ought to begin by referring that, since my imprisonment, March 25th, 1949, more than a year ago, I have been illegally submitted to rigorous isolation.
Judge -You certainly know there are components in the process relating to this issue.
AC – Perfectly. It is not at all exaggerated to say this regime is a new form of torture. Some resist, others, such as the great patriot Militao Ribeiro, loose their lives, as I was informed only after being before this court. The first time I was arrested, and refused to make any declarations, I was handcuffed, circled by some agents and spanked, all related with my political activity, punched, kicked, beaten with a stick, and thick boards with appropriate cables. After spanking me during a long time, they dropped me on the ground, took my shoes and socks off, and they beat me fiercely on the sole of my feet. When they tired, they picked me up, obliging me to march on my wounded and swollen feet, and at the same time they repeated the primitive process. It was repeated several times, again and again, during some time, till I lost my senses, fainted, and therefore remained for five days practically senseless. This time, I was not subjected to the same method. But I am able to compare, evaluate and declare here that a year of isolation is not as less hard than the severe methods mentioned. Therefore, there is no exaggeration on declaring that the referred isolation method is a new form of torture. Meanwhile, I ought to underline that in my case it is not about the so-called “deserved jerks” to obtain confessions (years ago mentioned by the Counsel President [Salazar]), but instead measures used by the police grudged for not having obtained such confessions. In fact, at the PIDE, many different questions were posed to me (some directly others indirectly) on my political activity. To all of them I refused to answer under the basis – which I sustain – that a member of the Portuguese Communist Party, vanguard political force in the struggle for Democracy, National Independence and a Lasting Peace, does not make any statements before the political police, a violent repression instrument used against Portuguese workers and democrats, patriots and Peace supporters. I verified with the greatest joy that my dear comrades, arrested and companions in this process, the heartfelt Militao and Sofia, had the same attitude.
Why can we do it? Why is it that every single day increases the number of communists that, defying all consequences, also do it? The reason is communists know how to defend their cause with devotion and honor. It is due to our Party’s support, the education work he provides to us, the constant appreciation of the trustworthy and courageous militants, the just sanction to those that commit serious faults and the expulsion and inexorable demask of cowards and traitors. The Communist Party is not only a school of political training, it is also a school of character training.
After this, Alvaro Cunhal refers how isolation prejudiced the defense preparation, referring the official press notes on his imprisonment, “where one finds many intentional inexactitudes and the most gross lies and slander,” and says that some of the latter are included in the process, and if the PIDE has not brought upon this court all the accusations it made before public opinion “that is because a court ought to present something that resembles a proof but, as they dispose of the media and the censorship and are secure regarding their impunity – although temporary – they think something will remain of the slander.” All things considered it is indispensable for his defense, “to make things clear, from the beginning of the trial, regarding some fundamental issues.”
1st point to be clarified:
The Portuguese Communists and the International Workers’ Movement
It is of general knowledge that, upon the dissolution of the Communist International in 1943, the international communist movement leadership common center disappeared. During 20 years the CI held a decisive role in the general development of the workers movement, in the defense of workers’ interests, in the progress of the liberating movement within colonial and dependent countries, in the liberation of the workers’ movement from the ideological influence of opportunist and reformist II International leaders, in the building of genuine Parties, of Leninist nature (with revolutionary theory and tactics) together with capable working class leaders, true national leaders. But, its historical mission accomplished, the CI was becoming an obstacle to the development of the workers’ movement, in general and regarding of each Communist Party. And therefore, all CI sections agreed, among which the PCP, the CI dissolution and the consequent disappearance of a common center of international communist movement leadership.
After the end of the anti-Hitler war (from which capitalism, in the whole, was extraordinarily weakened and socialism extraordinarily strengthened ), with the formation of two political fields in the world (the democratic and anti-imperialist and the imperialist and anti-democratic) with the undertaking of the economic and political subdue of Europe by the USA as a step for the establishment for its worldwide domain, with the preparations of an aggression war against the USSR and the Popular Democracies (main obstacles regarding the Anglo-American expansionist plans), together with a joint action with the reactionary bourgeoisie against the workers and democratic movement, the isolation, the lack of coordination of the Communist Parties activities became highly negative, not only for the working class, but to the defense of Peace and of the security and independence of nations.
Concerning Europe, the situation was particularly serious. Therefore, the Communist and Workers’ Parties of the great Soviet Union and of the European Popular Democracies (with the exception of Albania) – directly targeted by the promoters of a new war – and of the two Western European great bourgeois democracies (France and Italy) – in a whole Marshall Plan process – decided to create the Communist and Workers Parties Intelligence Bureau, constituted by nine parties, later on reduced to eight by the desertion of the Yugoslavian Communist Party. The Intelligence Bureau purposes were on one hand to ensure an exchange of experiences and the Parties’ coordination and activities; on the other hand, to present correct information on the international situation and the communist policy through a newspaper, published in Bucharest in several languages, intitled For a Lasting Peace, For a Popular Democracy.
Therefore, the Intelligence Bureau is not, contrarily to what reactionary propaganda and the Portuguese authorities say, a reconstitution of the CI, it is not a leading common center of the International Communist movement.
Thus, one ought to be aware that are pure lies, inventions, the reactionary statements on the existence of “centers” and “agents” from the Intelligence Bureau regarding each country, the Intelligence Bureau “instructions” for each country, and regarding accusations against me of my supposed liaison with a supposed and non-existent link with an Intelligence Bureau center with headquarters in Algiers and Tangier and my supposed “presidency” of a supposed and non-existent “commando” formed by Portuguese and Spaniards, together with supposed and non-existent “agents” in Portugal, Spain and France. All pure lies, pure inventions; it is the worn-out disk of “foreign orders,” of “Moscow’s eye,” with the purpose to distort, before the nation, the national and patriotic character of the Portuguese Communists struggle and with the purpose of separate from us the more vacillant democrats. An old and worn out disk in a new North-American recording...
But what has been declared before does not at all signify that the Intelligence Bureau documents (the Resolution on the International Situation taken in 1947, on the basis of the outstanding report of our late and great comrade Jdánov and the resolution on the Yugoslavia CP’s situation) are not historical documents and an indispensable contribution to the political and ideological strengthening of each CP, the correct definition of their political line in the current international conjuncture and of the workers’ and all democratic and anti-imperialist international forces’ determination fundamental common directions. For this support we, Portuguese Communists, together with all Communists worldwide, ought to be grateful to all the Parties of the Intelligence Bureau and, particularly, to the great Party of the master of all workers, Joseph Stalin.
What has been mentioned does not signify either that the PCP does and should not have fraternal relations established with brother Communist Parties. In a time when the reactionary bourgeoisie holds hands over all boarders against the proletariat, against fundamental human rights, against the freedom of the nations, against Peace, it would be a crime that our people would never forgive us to keep isolated, separated from the vanguard forces amid the democratic and anti-imperialist field. If anything is to be modified regarding the PCP’s activity it is towards the enlargement and reinforcement of the relations with brother Parties, in special those of Spain, France, Great Britain and Brazil.
The fidelity to the principles of proletarian internationalism is indispensable not only for the concrete defense of the interests of the proletariat, as for the National Independence and Peace defense. And, therefore I take up to:
2nd point to be clarified
The Portuguese Communists and National Independence
For a long time among capitalist countries in general, the dominant classes have ceased to identify their class interests with national interests. At a certain stage of imperialism evolution, they had to opt between their class interests, in liaison with monopolies and international trusts, or the nation’s interests, hit and prejudiced by those same trusts and monopolies. In parallel, the nation’s interests become identified, day by day in a more visible manner, with the interests of the proletariat.
In result this particular character of our time: the reactionary bourgeoisie, calling itself nationalist, becomes the foreign interests’ representant in each country, the declared defender of the Anglo-American domination or (as Salazar said among us) of the “the United States “plebiscitated hegemony.” This happens even in those countries that, although colonizers in Africa, are colonized in Europe.
It is the proletariat, it is the communists, as consequent internationalists, and with them, all working classes and all sincere democrats, who are the true defenders of National Independence, the tireless strugglers against the existent foreign domain or the threat of such domain. Nationalism leads nowadays the nations unto servitude and only internationalism can conduct them towards independence.
What I just said is clearly demonstrated as we consider our position as Portuguese communists.
It is a reality, that only those who are mistaken or want to be mistaken can deny, that the national economy, the national resources, are for a large part in the hands of foreign imperialists, particularly Anglo-American. And it is another reality is that this situation has aggravated in the last years and tends to worsen by new, constant and prejudicial concessions.
Is it or not true that the City and Wall Street bosses (that is the British and American great capitalists) that, through the SOFINA international trust, are the effective owners of the CRGE, holding over 70% of our national electric production? Is it or not true that from that result the extremely onerous imports of foreign coal for the thermic centrals as well as the delay and sabotage, once more proved, regarding our hydroelectric industry? Is it or not true that the City bosses are the real Companhia Carris of Lisbon owners, who hold our capital’s monopoly in collective transport (yesterday the trams, now trams and buses, tomorrow the underground too) and the Companhia de Telefones of Lisbon and Oporto, both companies with headquarters in London? Is it true or not that the Moncorvo iron, a hope for the Siderurgia Nacional, was handed away unto the Vereignite Stahlwerke during the time of the Nazis, and is today in the hands of the American trusts? And what about all the rest of the mining industry? And all the other national economic sectors? In all the national economy sectors at each step, all the time, we face companies with foreign names proving the foreign domain throughout our country. It could de objected that what matters are not the companies designations, not the given names to things, but what they really are. And therefore, I ought to underline that, in all sectors of the national economy, many companies that seem to be very Portuguese outside, are foreign inside. Inside mouldy bread, outside guitar strings, as the people says. In fact, what can be said of a “Portuguese” Rail Company or a “National” Rubber Manufacture? Or even the scandalous and hindered case of the “Portuguese” Sociedade de Celulose?
Concerning the colonies: is it or not true that the Anglo-American trusts are, through the Société Général de Belgique, the Burnay Bank and the Companhia de Diamantes de Angola (Diamang) holding this Angolan production? And cotton, by the Cottonang and others? And by the Fogerang, Forminier and others, a considerable part of the agriculture production? Is it true or not that the American trusts, through the Mozambique Oil Company recently obtained the Mozambique oil exploitation besides extensive territorial areas? And what about Tete uranium, a strategic resource for the United States? And the Moatize carbon? For the worse of our homeland, one can multiply by dozens, by hundreds, the examples that prove the existent abyss between the word independence and independence in itself, that proves how Portuguese independence is more and more an illusion.
Lénine said, in 1920, that Portugal was one of the rare countries that, although economically dependent, was politically independent.
Since then, with the capitalist unequal development discovered by Lénine, the situation changed. Naturally, economic dependence brings inevitably political dependence. One recognizes it in the Marshall Plan, the Atlantic Pact, in all the American policy carried out in Portugal. Before this situation, what do we Communists, desire?
We want Portuguese economy to be liberated from the foreign imperialist domain. We want our industry, agriculture, to produce for our people and not for the benefit of the City and Wall Street coffers. We want our national resources to be used for our industrial and technical production, for the country’s general development and not, as nowadays is happening, to be dilapidated in the purchase of luxury commodities abroad (especially in the USA), of gadgets, instead of national produced goods, all representing a growing and severe deficit for our trade balance (mainly with USA) , the invasion of foreign products in our home market that drastically compete with national products, namely in the difficulties, stagnation, the drawback of fundamental sectors of our industry and agriculture.
We want Portugal’s trade and financial relations with other countries to be based on principles of equality and the respect in mutual interests, and not as they are today, for ex. in trade relations with England and the United states, in which the dominant principles are: buy the great amount they wish to sell us, sell the little they want to buy and above all not selling what they do not want to buy. The port wines do not go out, but in come the cognacs and whiskies. The resins do not go out, but in comes the white spirit. The cork does not go out, but in come the most varied plastic materials.
We want Portugal to follow a true Portuguese policy, determined by the interests of the majority of the Portuguese population, and not by the interests of a bunch of multimillionaires, accomplices of the foreign imperialists and seated at the administrations of the great companies. We want the Portuguese independence to be a reality lived by our people and not a marketing phrase.
Fascists dare to refuse electoral rights to the Portuguese under suspect of being communists on the basis of “having opposite ideas towards Portugal’s existence as an independent state (as the law says). Here, as in many other cases, fascists do nothing more than follow the thief’s tactics: “There goes a thief!.”
We see therefore how slanderous and without fundament is the accusation of an “anti-national” character in the Portuguese communist’s activity. And, at the same time, how fascists lack authority to persecute and judge us, for that.
Herewith we stand for the love to our country. And that is the greatest of all reasons.
3rd point. to be clarified:
The Portuguese Communists and the danger of a war
Capitalism, in its ultimate phase (the imperialist), is characterized by the formation of monopolies and trusts as a result of concentration and the growing exports in commodities and capital unto less developed countries, not only owing to the low price of raw-materials, the huge working class exploitation and the weak market demand, which guarantee imperialists higher profits than in their own countries, but as well by the need of drainage of production surplus, in result of the existent contradiction between the capitalist production social character and the private appropriation of the means of production. In result, the inevitability of struggles among imperialist powers for markets, natural resources, zones of influence. Those struggles are carried out by pacific means (trade and diplomatic) whilst possible or by the force of weapons. Imperialism is the great war nurturer.
This signifies that the unity, so claimed among capitalist countries at present, especially among the Anglo-Saxon ones, is much more fragile than most suppose. The capitalist world is torn apart by contradictions that, undoubtedly, will conduct to difficulties, chocks and conflicts among imperialist powers, namely between the United States and England. Those who live, will be witnesses. So, a danger of a war will exist, as long as imperialism is not swept away from the world.
But it is not a war between imperialist powers that is referred when the danger of a war is mentioned. It is an eventual war between imperialist countries on one side and the USSR and Popular Democracies on the other.
Does such a danger exist? Yes, such a danger exists.
And it exists because the world hegemony candidates dream to demolish, to destroy, the main obstacles to achieve their purposes. Such a danger exists as, upon the Marshall Plan failure of the so-called “European economic recuperation,” most of his funds absorbed in repressive forces equipment and in the persecution unto the working and democratic movement, at the same time difficulties arise in the United States, with export decrease, the closing of factories, the increase of unemployment and social conflicts, the taking place of a new “plan,” “a military aid plan,” with the intensive production and export of armament by the United States, is (in the North-American multimillionaires’ opinion) the only path to maintain their profits, increase exports, diminish unemployment, pacify social conflicts and remove the threat of a crisis that is coming. This danger exists because reactionary bourgeoisie, together with international trusts and monopolies, dominant within dependent countries (among them Portugal), unable to sustain through their own resources, at a national plan, the achievement of the democratic movement and national liberation, desperately seeks a solution at an international scale.
In what consists the danger of a war, where does it begin and against who is it targeted?
Naturally, imperialists, in order to confuse peoples who desire Peace and do not want war, do not present matters in this manner. And say the danger comes from the USSR, that holds aggression and domain purposes.
“He who deceives always meets someone who lets himself be deceived.” But there are facts all observe. Everybody assists to who is carrying out an unrestrained war propaganda, who claims an anti-Soviet crusade, who in our country says “the United States ought to fight Russia and in Europe” (Salazar), who, not too lately claimed to hurry and drop bombs over Soviet cities.” Everybody sees who holds military bases spread worldwide, in Japan, as in Formosa, Greece and the Middle East, England and the Azores, Greenland, as in North Africa. Everybody knows who intervenes militarily in Greece, Indonesia, South Korea or even in the Vietnam. Everybody sees who works on monstrous rearmament plans, who signs down aggressive Atlantic pacts, who absorbs 40%, 50% of all public income with military expenditure, who makes rushed preparations for war from, among us, the creation of a "Supreme Council of National Defense” for “a war eventuality,” to the building of schools for a hurried training of officers and the change of the uniforms, measures that were never carried out during the somber years of the anti-Hitler war. Everybody sees that the trusts and monopolies bosses, the fascists and reactionary of all kinds, that desire, claim and prepare the war. And the working classes, progressive intellectuals, communists and all the sincere democrats who wish, claim and defend peace. And all this is not by chance. Imperialists want war. Anti-imperialists want peace. And this is not by chance. Imperialism cannot survive without war. Peace is deadly for imperialism. But the real despair for imperialists is that if peace is deadly, war, if they achieve to launch it, is also deadly. Imperialism is at a dead lock, where not even shines that cruel hope in the secret of the atomic bomb, as Molotov declared in November 7th, 1947, that the atomic bomb was no more a secret. And more than two years have passed since...
But it is necessary to say that the USSR, by its economic and political structure, does not have, nor can have, any aggression and domain purposes. None of the USSR and Popular Democracies interests are contrary to the Portuguese people’s interests and independence. None at all. Our people’s and independence enemies are the same of the USSR and the Popular Democracies. We have friends in common. We have enemies in common. And therefore, we say the Portuguese people have the USSR and the Popular Democracies among its best allies
There is a great imperialist desire to launch a new war. But the practical possibility to launch it is not as huge. Peace forces increase every day. And are more powerful. But if after all such a criminal endeavor was carried out, an aggression war was launched against the USSR and the Popular Democracies, we are deeply convinced that, in the interest of Portugal’s independence, of freedoms and welfare of our people, of the future of our homeland, the Portuguese people will not march against its best friends and allies.
4th point to be clarified:
The Portuguese Communists and our people’s economic and cultural situation
In spite of the hypocrite complaints of the preachers of our irreparable misery – it is never too much to repeat that our natural resources, conveniently used, would ensure an easy life for all our people, so that no Portuguese citizen ought to miss a good home and enough food, the necessary clothing, and culture and distraction for the spirit and rest for weariness.
After referring the general misery and underlining that there will be few countries, except the colonial ones, were there is a more deep and outstanding class inequality, Alvaro Cunhal, carried on:
Who can deny the real salaries’ decrease? Do not consult the statistics falsified by salazarists. Ask the workers themselves, the mothers that perform marvels but cannot make miracles. The government explained, for ten years, the existence of low salaries on account of “difficulties resulting from the war” and by what it names the “inflation devil circle.” These words only but retard salaries increase and justify the increase of 10 dimes in prices for each increased dime in salaries. Fabulous profits, hunger salaries, that is the real “devilish circle.”
Why are factories closed down and production is diminished in others, throwing thousands of workers unto unemployment and misery, when only through general production increase can general well-being increase?
Why the salaried peasant’s massive unemployment when there are over two million hectares of abandoned soil (four times Algarve’s total area) and huge amounts of products imported, that our agriculture produces?
Why, regarding this situation, the Fundo de Desemprego (Unemployment Fund) sustained by the workers’ discounts, is used in producing reactionary propaganda films and other demagogic works?
Why have difficulties and ruin small industrials, agricultural poducers and traders? By the need of “production efficiency,” as the government justifies by its laws and concentration projects? Or by ruinous taxes, usury, smashing competition undergone by industrial, agriculture and trade monopolies, hindered by corporativism?
Why forbid the free trade of commodities which could ensure supply and the requisitions in the benefit of the great owners and non-just prices for Portuguese producers when higher ones are paid to foreign producers?
Why the poor housing when a wave of luxury buildings with inaccessible rents is supported and funds are deviated from the Caixas de Previdência (Social Welfare Departments) in order to build quarters, which in the most part are inhabited by workers? Why the increase in child mortality, tuberculosis and syphilis? Why the increase in prostitution and criminality? Why, if not by the general poverty and the decomposition of Portuguese society?
Why illiteracy, the interdiction of cultural works, the competent scientists and specialist’s demission, the persecution upon art, when our people prove to desire, more than ever, instruction and culture?
Why, if not because the dominant classes appropriate culture as its monopoly, for fearing it becomes a weapon at the people’s service?
Portugal is not a poor country. But it is quite poor the material and cultural life our people is condemned to by the domain of the reactionary great bourgeoisie in liaison with international trusts and monopolies.
Nobody denies that the capitalist society is divided into classes. What some do deny is the existence of exploiters and exploited and a class struggle. Those few are naturally those that by living from exploitation are, in their own saintly words, in favor of “reconciliation” and “class harmony.” According to them, class struggle is only an invention and a tactic of the communists.
The truth is that class struggle was not even Marx’s discovery. Marx’s merit is to have discovered and demonstrated the role of class struggle in historical evolution, to have discovered and demonstrated that class struggle conducts unto a kind of State in which the proletariat is the leading class and which such proletarian State conducts unto the class disappearance. The victorious building of socialism in the Soviet Union is an historical proof of Marx’s idea.
Amid capitalist society, class struggle is an alive reality which everyone lives, consciously or not. More: that struggle is taken ahead more fiercely by those who deny its existence. All the fascist state apparatus is nothing but a hideous weapon to conduct the class struggle by the reactionary great bourgeoisie, in liaison with international trusts and monopolies. If factories are closed, if there is abandoned soil, if unemployment exists, if the working classes situation is so tragic, if one assists to the Portuguese nation’s economic and cultural backwardness, it is precisely because in Portugal a class policy is followed, that of the class whose interests are opposed to national interests, the policy of the reactionary great bourgeoisie in liaison with international trusts and monopolies.
Nothing can characterize better this class nature of the actual State as the corporative organization. The great bourgeoisie does not only administrate the organizations that, through corporativism, represent the employers: Gremios, Federations, etc. It administrates also those that through corporativism represent workers: National Trade-Unions, Fishermen’s Houses, People’s Houses. When the workers, by overcoming all their difficulties, achieve to elect leaders they trust in National Trade-Unions, stepping downs take place, resignations, the appointing of administrative commissions coming from the reactionary employers and fascist government, the police persecutions. At the Casas do Povo e Pescadores (Peoples’ Houses and Fisheries) the conduct is even more shameless, as (according to the law) the leadership belongs to agrarians and shipowners. At the limit, one assists in the Corporative Chamber, representing rural workers, those same ones who live under exploitation of rural workers.
What can be done before this situation? Accept it as granted?
The fortunate always were the great preachers of resignation. But each class has its ideology and resignation does not belong to the ideology of the proletariat. The PCP, as the vanguard of the proletariat, defends the path of struggle, a constant and persistent struggle just as the one carried out against the working classes.
The situation is not irreparable. It ought to be modified and it changes as the working classes organize and struggle.
We defend resistance to exploitation and oppression through the action of the popular masses. We defend the need of the constitution of masses’ representative organizations, whose members are chosen by the masses themselves. We defend the need of small and great actions, from a complaint presented by factory commissions, in repair shops, the estate, at the workers’ market or any other work place unto the large concentrations, demonstrations and strikes, in the case the other forms of struggle do not work out.
If it were not by the PCP activity in the defense of our people’s interests, the thousands and thousands of struggles carried out (particularly in the last decade) by the working classes and sincere democrats, the situation today would to be incomparably more tragic. Sometimes a partial struggle is smashed by violence. But the profits are always won, even if later on, in time.
Through the popular masses struggle, one confronts the war that is aimed at them, defends their interests, and improves their situation. Through masses struggle a path is opened towards a definitive solution.
The struggle is never among forces in equality of circumstances. The great reactionary bourgeoisie linked to international trusts and monopolies have the State at their service, hold a government, an army, police, courts and prisons, laws passed in their favor, all kinds of material resources and propaganda means.
Therefore, our people economic and cultural interests’ defense, as well as peace and national independence defense places the issue, not only on the daily struggle, for the economic and cultural working classes improvement (the same as the daily struggle against foreign concessions and war policy), but equally the struggle against the present government, against the present State, against the present regime. And now, follows the:
5th point to be clarified:
The Portuguese Communists and the Regime
Can the desires of all democrats and patriots – Independence, Peace, people’s Welfare – be satisfied within the present regime? No, they cannot.
A political regime is a form of domination of one or several classes over others. The present regime is a reactionary great bourgeoisie domain form in liaison with trusts and monopolies that (as I have proved) are contrary to our independence, Peace and our people’s welfare. More: one of the desires of all democrats and patriots, one of our people’s elementary necessities, such a necessity as bread or water, the air one breaths, is to be able to say what one thinks by words or by writing, it’s the possibility of association or meeting freely – the democratic freedoms. These cannot be achieved in a regime that, by its nature, by definition of its doctrine, is freedom’s denial.
Certainly, in the aggressive Atlantic Pact preamble (which the government was preparing to sign down at the time of my imprisonment) the signatory governments’ compromise to defend freedoms and democracy. Regarding the serious isolation I have been since then, I am not sure if by Salazar’s government intervention, such a compromise was blotted away, omitted from the Pact, or then, not to assume such a compromise contrary to his state’s nature and his political concepts, the government refused to sign down such a Pact. Or finally: if having signed down such a Pact and consequently assumed such a compromise, the government carried out measures, then onwards, to establish freedoms and democracy in our country... But I do not believe in that; and if another reason was missing to have this opinion, the fact that I carry on being in prison and we are being before this court... In order to the superior aspirations of all democrats and patriots ought to be satisfied, a change of government configuration is necessary, a change of regime.
Some think that, consequently, this about a return to the situation before the 28th May, back to the 1910 Republic.
However, during these 24 years of fascist oppression, new factors have appeared, both regarding national policy and the international situation, that impede such a return.
Regarding national policy: the working-class movement rising, the working class and its Party placing in the vanguard of the democratic movement, and the political organization of the great bourgeoisie and numerous fascist leaders placed in all public administration sectors.
Regarding the international situation: the victorious building of socialism in over a sixth of the globe, the great general progress of the working class and anti-imperialist movement, the military smashing and the disappearance of three pillars of the great powers from the imperialism framework: Germany, Italy and Japan, the liberation from imperialism of a great number of countries (besides the USSR) with a total (besides the USSR) of over 300 million inhabitants. (This number at the time of my imprisonment, when the China Liberation Army took over Beijing. At present, the number is certainly higher).
These new factors make it impossible to go back to the 1910 Republic.
It was characteristic of the 1910 Republic´s character and weakness the fact the working class was cast away from the nation’s successive governments. This resulted from the working-class political backwardness, owing to the practical inexistence of a Communist Party and the dominant anarchist influence of the workers movement. In Portugal, no Democratic Republic is viable, nowadays, without the working-class participation in the nation’s government.
It was characteristic of the 1910 Republic´s character and weakness the non-realization of deep social reforms. This is due, fundamentally, to the fact that, from 1910 to 1920 (with rare and short intermittences) the power was exclusively in the hands of the liberal bourgeoise. No Democratic Republic is viable, nowadays, in our country without deep social reforms.
It was characteristic of the 1910 Republic´s character and weakness the non-democratization of the whole State apparatus. This refers to the mentioned reasons, as well as to the government instability and the parties pulverization, were people’s diversity replaced programme diversity. No Democratic Republic is viable in Portugal with the absence of a wide democratization of the State apparatus, a democratic army, democratic police, a democratic justice.
Finally: it was characteristic of the 1910 Republic´s character and weakness the non-identification of the popular democratic movement with a genuine liberating national movement. Owing fundamentally to the anti-imperialist movement’s general backwardness. Today, no Democratic Republic is viable in Portugal without the carrying out of an energetic liberation policy of our country from the foreign imperialist domain.
It is therefore understandable that a return unto the 1910 Republic (although from the point of view of freedoms such a return would to represent a true liberation for our people) is not only impossible but also undesirable. Repeating the same weaknesses, it would create the conditions for the repeating of force coups and reactionary dictatorships. I am convinced that, one day, there will not exist great differences between us communists and other democrats, including those old and noble republicans that, in spite of 24 years under repression and the weight of age, carry on vigorous and faithful to their old ideals, including also those many Catholics which remain faithful to Christianity.
For a Democratic Republic to be viable in Portugal, it is necessary that the people see in that Republic their Republic and in the Government their Government. It is necessary that Republic and Government be freely chosen by the people. And moreover, it is necessary the wide and enthusiastic participation of large popular masses in the necessary work of renovation in all the national life sectors. Such a participation will never take place whilst our people sees himself treated in his own country as if he were in a strange and hostile land. Such a participation will never can take place in the absence of a policy of liberation of the country from foreign imperialism and their home agents. Without the nationalization of fundamental economic sectors. Without an agrarian reform that delivers uncultivated land and the latifundia unto poor peasants. Without the economic and cultural elevation of workers and all employees. Without the protection regarding the small industrial units, agricultures and traders, by liberating them from usury and ruinous taxes. Without favorable conditions for our scientists and artists, our specialists and technicians, so they can build a real creative work for the sake of our country. Without the access to instruction and culture for working-class children. Without the defense of youth’s interests (condemned, nowadays, to a life with no health nor happiness), of women (reduced to the condition of inferior human beings), of colonial peoples (today decimated by the so-called “contract,” by disease and by the so-called “compelled work”).
Imperialism liberating policy, deep social reforms, wide democratization of all the State apparatus, working class participation in the nation’s government – these are the fundamental conditions for a Democratic Republic to be feasible in Portugal.
We desire such a Republic and we struggle for it. But the purposes are not sufficient; it is necessary to consider the means to achieve it. So, and last, the:
6º and last point to be clarified
The Portuguese Communists and their means for action
We, Communists, more than anyone, desire a peaceful solution for the Portuguese political problem. Therefore, and it has been for a long time our major claim the realization of free elections for a Constitutive Assembly through which our People freely chooses its leaders and he understands to be the best form of rule and government. More: although the Constitution in force is anti-democratic, although the National Assembly is far from being similar to any other parliament in a bourgeois democracy, although the electoral law establishes numerous discriminations and exclusions owing to the differences in political opinion, wealth, culture and sex, and in spite of all these reasons, we accepted (along with all democrats) that that national will was to be concluded through the “elections” for the National Assembly, first (in November 1945), and in the presidential “elections,” later (at the beginning of 1949).
These presented claims posed by all democrats in order to run for the “elections” were very modest. These conditions were resumed in one: that the laws in force were to be applied effectively.
But what occurred then? In both cases, the government disrespected the Constitution and his own laws, and the democrats were the ones to claim for their applicability.
It is usual in forceful regimes the government consider in their Constitution numerous “rights and guarantees of citizens.” But they do it demagogically, convinced that citizens will not have practical possibilities to claim them. When the people have the strength and courage to do it, such governments begin by openly disrespect, deliberately, the Constitution they made themselves and end up by having to change it. Portugal’s example is conclusive.
And not only but regarding the afore-mentioned “elections.” Anytime the workers seek on law basis to defend their economic, political, social and cultural interests, this always happens, the government and its authorities or simply deny the law appliance or delude its interpretation or rush to modify it. (The decree modifies the law, the council law the decree, the dispatch the council law). And this happens in the best of cases. Because frequently one observes that the claimers, by the simple fact of legally defending their interests, suffer new intimidation measures and persecutions.
To prove it I do not need to mention examples outside this process.
And upon referring the illegal isolation regime, in which he stands, although the successive claims and favorable court dispatches, a 10 thousand escudos theft committed by PIDE agents in the house he was seized, etc., Alvaro Cunhal carried on:
And therefore, one can understand that what truly determinates repression is not the unconstitutionality or illegality of the means of action, but instead the interests that action defends. All action, carried out in the defense of the working classes and the adversaries of the regime interests, both legal or illegal, is considered “subversive.” But all that is in the defense of the trusts and monopolies and the fascist camarilla, both legal or illegal, is under protection and supported by authorities. Under the eyes of the government, no means are legitimate to defend the working classes and the regime adversaries’ interests. But to defend trusts and monopolies and the fascist camarilla all means are legitimate, from hunger and misery unto illiteracy, from the so-called “possible freedom” unto the so-called “necessary authority,” from the Tarrafal slow death unto the incommunicability hangings.
We live in a regime in which the rights consecrated in law are for the exclusive use and benefit of the dominant classes, and the duties only to be accomplished by the workers and the regime adversaries. In that we see how the fascists lack of authority to persecute and judge us for the use of “unconstitutional and illegal means.” We are living within an unconstitutional and illegal regime. And therefore, and only for that reason, a political force that purposes to effectively defend the people and the country’s interests cannot limit its action within the legality as the government considers it, in other words: a legality that, besides being of fascist nature, is above that (and for that very reason) constantly disrespected by the authorities.
And so we also say that those democrats who, by weariness or discouragement, drive away from us, Communists, in order to follow such a legalist path, either recognize their mistake (we are certain that the sincere ones will do that), or retire to private life or, sooner or later, and more or less in a hidden manner, pass on to the enemy field. They do not have any other path.
Within a fascist State, a political force that desires to effectively defend the people and country’s interests has to join the legal activity (with all limitations and uncertainties and contingences of a fascist legality) with the underground activity.
But we declare: free elections taking place as a constitutional and legal means towards a change of regime. But, proven that in the present regime free elections have no place, then the question has to be placed inversely: no longer free elections for a change of regime, but a change of regime for the taking place of free elections.
In other words: if the government behaves stubbornly to impede the free expression of the nation’s will, the taking place of truly free elections, and obstinate in responding with the use of force and violence to all popular and democratic claims, nobody ought to doubt that the day will come when our people will raise massively for a regime of freedom and legality and to force will respond with force. That day, as today, as always, we Communists, will be with our people.
A few words on means of action.
Any person, holding a minimum of good information, knows that (as the Communism masters, Marx, Engels, Lénine and Stalin teach), we are against terrorism.
Terrorism creates within masses the false conception that a change of regime and deep social changes can take place by the simple action of a small group of courageous and determined people. Terrorism frightens the most backward layers and drives them to a conservative position and, leads the people in general to cross their arms and wait. Therefore, terrorism drives the masses away from struggle, when only the large mass participation in that same struggle can conduct us to a change of regime and to deep social changes.
Concerning the Party: a Communist Party that chooses the path of terrorism son stops being a Communist Party. It stops being the proletariat vanguard and its General-Staff, it stops being a leading political force able to lead the class and the masses unto victory to become a sectarian group, closed up in its own, isolated from masses and condemned to perish.
But it is not only theoretically that we are opposed to terrorism. We harmonize practice with theory. No terrorism act can be pointed out to the PCP. There isn’t any article, amid his numerous newspapers, any passage in his Leadership reports, any resolution from its congresses in which terrorism is defended.
And therefore, there exist no grounds regarding the accusation of the terrorist nature of the Portuguese Communists’ activity. And one can see there how our accusers lack authority to persecute and judge us for that.
Alvaro Cunhal pointed out a long series of fascist crimes – Militão, Alfredo Dinis, Ferreira Marquês, Vidigal, António de Almeida, Augusto Martins, Ferreira Soares, Tomé, Bento, the 40 dead in Tarrafal, etc.... underlining in each case that it is the government that uses political terrorism methods. And he carried on:
You all ought to be sure that the day will to come when all these crimes will be taken into account, in another judgement, in which the accused will be others.
Now, I am going to end. Both in the press and in what this process contains, they tried to exaggerate the importance that, regarding my Party’s life, had the imprisonment of my comrade Militão and of me. But the Communists remained untroubled, as they know the PC leadership carries on en garde, as they know the Communist Party has capable leaders, experienced and with the supreme virtue that is the unlimited dedication to our people and homeland. The CP holds a numerous staff, deeply honorable and courageous, day by day enriched by the working-class unlimited reserves. The Communist Party counts with cadres as Alberto, Santos, Amílcar, Guilherme, Vilar, Marco, Gomes , Ramiro, Almeida, Vaz, João, André, Marques, Abel, Afonso, Melo, Chico, and so many other outstanding militants which are the Party the people’s pride, and for whom goes at this moment my great, great esteem, trust and admiration.
We do not represent a defeated Party nor a defeated cause. We represent a great national Party, of our country’s workers, peasants, and all the oppressed and exploited in our country, the representants of the vanguard force in the struggle for Democracy, Independence and Peace, we represent a cause already historically triumphant.
Against all Portuguese democrats and, in particular, against us, Communists, are launched fierce persecutions and hysterical lies and detraction campaigns. We rejoice, even in the face of such persecutions and campaigns, in that our Party holds the active support and affection of workers, peasants, and all honorable workers, both manual and intellectual, of our youth, of women throughout Portugal, of colonial peoples, of all sincere democrats.
We are going to be judged and certainly condemned. For our rejoice, it is enough to know that our people thinks that if anyone is to be judged and condemned for acting against the people’s and country’s interests, for wanting to drag Portugal unto a criminal war, by using unconstitutional and illegal means, by using terrorism, that is not us, Communists. Our people think that if anybody is to be judged for such crimes, then that be the fascists who sit at the criminal bar, then that sit in the criminal bar the present rulers of the nation and their leader, Salazar.