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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

"We celebrate this liberating act that put an end to the long fascist night"

The PCP on the legacy of the Portuguese April Carnation Revolution

A street scene from the Carnation Revolution 1974


The Carnation Revolution that swept away decades of fascist rule in Portugal began on April 25, 1974. The revolution saw sweeping social and economic reforms and helped bring the end of Portuguese colonial power. The far left and the Communist Party played a leading rule in the early days of the revolution.


On the 49th anniversary of the revolution and with the 50th anniversary only a year off, the Portuguese Communist Party has been reflecting on the importance and legacy of it as well as its lessons and meaning for future struggles.


Here we republish English translations of a speech (and video) by Paulo Raimundo, General Secretary of the PCP from April 23 about the revolution as well as a comprehensive PCP Central Committee statement about it from December.



Speech by Paulo Raimundo, General Secretary of the PCP, April 23, 2023


Here we are celebrating the Revolution, a few days away from the 49th. anniversary of this great event of our history.


We celebrate this liberating act that put an end to the long fascist night of 48 years of deprivation illiteracy, prisons, torture, death, colonialism, war.


A fascist regime, aligned with fascism at the international level, a regime to which imperialism always gave a helping hand, and it was through this hand that Portugal became a founding member of NATO.


48 years of heightening of inequalities, concentration and accumulation of wealth, particularly in the hands of 7 large economic groups.


A terrorist dictatorship of monopolies and large latifundia, associated with foreign imperialism.


The 25th of April Revolution put a stop to all this.


Today, just like yesterday, it is essential to know and make known what fascism was, at a time when there are many who try to erase, adulterate or sweeten it, rewriting History brazenly and without any shame.


April was and is a Revolution.


It was not just any evolution or transition, as some would have you believe.


April was a military uprising followed by a popular uprising, in a process that revolutionised social and economic structures.


A collective process, where the working class, the workers, the popular masses and the progressive military, united in the People-Armed Forces Movement alliance, took into their hands the implementation of profound economic, social, political and cultural changes.


The 25th. of April enshrined freedoms, concrete fundamental rights in the life of the people.


Rights of opinion, demonstration and creation of political parties, broad social and labour rights, free trade union organisation and the right to strike.


The increase in wages and the achievement of the National Minimum Wage, increase and extension of retirement and disability pensions, the prohibition of unfair dismissals, the extension of vacation time and its allowance.


April ensured the rupture and changed the economic and social structure.


April meant nationalisations and the end of the power of the monopolies, April brought about the Agrarian Reform, and allowed hundreds of thousands of hectares of uncultivated land to be put into production.


April is access to healthcare and the creation of the general and free National Health Service, expansion and improvement of Social Security, the right to education and Democratic Local Government.


Abril enshrined in law equality between men and women, but also the improvement of their living and working conditions, in the field of wages, working time, maternity leave.


It was with the Revolution that thousands of jobs were created, that cultural activities were developed, that decreased emigration.


It was the April Revolution that ended the colonial war, and which recognised the right to self-determination and independence of the peoples of the former colonies.


The 25th of April was for everyone, but is not of everyone.


The 25th of April is certainly not of those who never wanted it, it is not of those who attacked and attack it, of those who were engaged and engage so that April does not happen. April is not of those who clean the image of fascism.


The 25th of April belongs to the people, of this people, of the progressive military, of the democrats who launched forward all advances and achievements, with their hands, in the streets and in companies.


There was no change, advance and progress, from the simplest to the deepest, that was not helped by this powerful and invincible initiative of the popular masses.


The 25th. of April belongs to its builders and such is its strength and the value of its project, the depth of its achievements, that decades of counter-revolution and right-wing policies have not yet been able to, nor will be able to destroy.


April is more future, April is the answer to the problems we face, that April that was interrupted and unfinished by the counter-revolutionary process and its inherent right-wing policy carried out by successive governments, from PS to PSD, with or without CDS. A process that is incompatible with the April project.


A policy that attacks and mutilates the Constitution, in a process of endless years and that is now happening again, with the PS lending a hand to reactionary projects, opening the door to new amendment projects, with old ideas. The Constitution does not need amendment, what it does need is implementation and implementation in everyday life, that is fulfilling April.


This right-wing policy that rebuilds old privileges of monopoly capital, in an operation at the expense of colossal public resources, of increased exploitation of workers and our people.


A path that attacks everything that is public and privatises everything possible.


But what April enshrined was a break with this reality and this is what remains to be accomplished.


This right-wing policy that continues to focus on promoting war and jeopardising peace, a path at the service of the strategies, wishes and plans of the USA, NATO and EU.


But April brought precisely the end of war, April brought Peace and enshrined that it is towards peace that the country must always walk.


This right-wing policy that is put at the service of economic groups, their many billions of profits, their 20 million euros of profit per day in 2022, while at the same time the population sees the end of the month increasingly distant , buys less and less food but pays more and more, adds increasing difficulties in meeting housing costs.


This is not April. April is the fair distribution of wealth.


The right-wing policy that disinvests and chokes public services. A situation supported only by the valiant dedication to the public cause of its professionals, in the National Health Service, in Public Schools, in Social Security and in many other services.


But April is the opposite of this disinvestment.


Just as it is contrary to the policy of low wages with 70% of workers, around 3 million, earning less than 1000 euros gross, precariousness and low pensions.


April is improvement of living conditions, April is living with dignity.


The policies of the right, the policies of alternation, of musical chairs, the policies of pretending to show differences, the policies of deceiving what is essentially the same. In what is fundamental, in what is strategic at the service of big capital, PS, PSD, CDS, Chega and IL share the same visions, differing, if anything, in speed.


A strongly and rightly contested policy, in a struggle of great scale and scope.


A struggle that forced the government to take measures.


Therein lies the strength of the struggle.


What until recently was stated as an impossibility, finally came to be shown as a reality.


Measures now announced, very insufficient, far short of needs.


This is the case of pensions, we remember that the government said a few months ago that increases would be the end of Social Security, but now here we have the increases. Late, insufficient, but it was the struggle that forced them to become reality. It will be the struggle that will force the government to respond with what is necessary, mid-year and immediate increase in pensions by 9.1%, with a minimum of 60 euros retroactively to January.


This is the case of wages, we remember that the government claimed that wage increases would contribute to the inflationary spiral, but now it is forced to recognise, by force of reality and struggle, this need.


Announcing a 1% raise which is insufficient, and one should ask if the government thinks this is enough, if this somehow covers the increase in the cost of living.


What is needed are real increases for all wages. This when we know that CEOs already earn 36 times more than workers, with the owner of Jerónimo Martins earning 186 times the average gross salary of workers in that company.


This is also the case with housing, with measures that, besides the propaganda and intentions, are nothing more than protections of profits and speculation. More Housing quickly became More Transfers, more tax benefits, more transfers of public moneys to sustain and feed the banks and real estate funds. The solution to the problem of access to housing does not involve giving more support to those responsible for the situation we have reached. The solution, however, is to make those responsible pay, make banks and real estate funds pay and make the State fulfil the role that only the State can fulfil. There are more and more people contemplating and demanding this path.


And what can one say about the statements made by the Prime Minister a few months ago, stating that the war was to be blamed for the increases in food prices, that there was nothing he could do, that was what it was.


Now there we have once again the struggle to show the way, to force the government to intervene.


And it is necessary to boost the fight, because the measures it has taken solve nothing or face the price of food, which continues to increase, on average, around 20%.


Prices that will continue to rise, and which have demonstrably increased since the zero% VAT measure was announced.


As the Party proposes, this measure without intervention in prices with their control and cut, is worth little or nothing, as is being demonstrated. Without attacking speculation, zero% VAT is a zero in results for those who work.


Prices continue to rise and people find their lives increasingly difficult.


A policy that does not respond to the problems we are facing is a policy contrary to the April project.


So let April be fulfilled, because fulfilling April is:


- deepening relations of equality, friendship and solidarity with all peoples, contributing to solutions of peace and not those of war;


- guaranteeing sovereignty and public control of strategic sectors that meet the needs of the population and contribute to the country's true development;


- fulfilling rights, guaranteeing housing, health care, education, mobility, access to essential goods;


- valuing professionals from the National Health Service, Public Schools and all sectors and services which contribute in an absolutely decisive and irreplaceable way to the public cause;


- is, right away, guaranteeing an increase in all wages and pensions, real increases that are felt in people's purchasing power, and not increases that are so insufficient that they do not respond to the increase in the cost of living that we are witnessing.


Fulfilling April means implementing a policy that serves national interests and places workers and the people at the centre of its action.


This policy, patriotic and left-wing, this policy of and with Abril, is what is needed, is what is in the interest of the workers, the people and broad and diverse strata and sectors.


The country has potential, it is necessary to take advantage of it and put its resources at the service of the population.


Not waiving the capabilities and potential of a single strategic sector.


Not waiving a single public service.


It is no coincidence that each and every one of these sectors and services arouses the greed of economic groups.


There we have TAP proving, comrades, that after all, after everything fine combed, the problems and messes that have accumulated are truly the outcome of private management.


Reality is proving, once again, that the question is not whether the State is a bad manager by nature, the real question is the nature of the interests driving those who lead the State and the destinies of the country.


It should be noted that it is common to see public companies being managed as private – the aim is clear, to facilitate their privatisation.


What is impossible is to see private companies being managed as public, taking into account public interest, public service, enshrined law.


We keep hearing this amazing argument that at least taxpayers do not pay for poor private management.


Do not pay? So, who produces the wealth that fills the pockets of managers and shareholders and does not reach the workers? Who pays for runaway prices? Who supports these increases? Who maintains workers without a contract or indefinitely with temporary contracts, even though they fulfil permanent functions?


We all pay and it is not little. And the biggest cost is what the State gives up, tools, means, capacities to intervene and be able to respond to the needs that the country and the population face.


And since we are talking of sovereignty, a few words about the Stability Program, which causes so much instability to the country's destiny.


A programme submitted to the impositions of the European Union and the full array decreed by Brussels: accelerated reduction of the debt and the deficit, compression of wages, pensions, public investment, public services.


With this prescription imposed and accepted, the government sacrifices the country to the interests of economic groups.


The Country of April is a country that sovereignly decides its path, which seeks solutions to its problems.


On our part, you can count on the firm commitment to carry this plan forward.


And here we are ready to assume our responsibilities, when the people so decide.


Let us make the popular celebrations of the 25th. of April great moments of affirmation also in the streets, of its values, its project and, above all, its topicality.


Celebrations that the right never tires of attacking and trying to condition. This year is no exception. Because it only makes what was already evident even clearer: that they mishandle democracy, mishandle a sovereign country with its own voice, mishandle those who uphold the cause of peace, and yes, mishandle the 25th. of April. This is the core issue.


The workers, the people, the democrats will celebrate April. We are really going to fill Avenida da Liberdade, we are going to fill avenues and squares throughout the country, we are going to show that the values and the April project are alive, very much alive, and will provide all the answers that are necessary for the present and the future of the country. our country.


And because April was and is what it is, it is because there were many May Days of struggle, let's make the next May Day a great day of struggle, a great demonstration of the strength of the workers, of their struggle, a great moment of demand to increase wages, rights, a moment of combat against exploitation and the increase in the cost of living.


Here we are to resist the counter-revolutionary process and fight for a break with right-wing policies and for a patriotic and left-wing alternative, for an Advanced Democracy with April Values in the future of Portugal, for socialism.


We are firmly convinced that the noble and advanced project of April and its values and achievements are affirmed as an objective necessity in the materialisation of a fraternal and progressive Portugal!


LONG LIVE THE 25th. OF ABRIL!




Resolution of the Central Committee of PCP


50th Anniversary of April 25 «April is more future»


8 December 2022


The April Revolution is a major milestone in the history of Portugal, a realization of the people's will, an affirmation of freedom, social emancipation, sovereignty and national independence.


For 48 years, the workers, the people, thousands of democrats and patriots developed the struggle of antifascist resistance, for democracy and freedom, wherein PCP and successive generations of communist militants assumed a prominent role. The victory over fascism, unleashed by the Armed Forces Movement (MFA) on April 25, 1974, was possible because of this resistance struggle that brought together the workers' movement, the intellectuals, the youth and student movement, the democratic movement, and the struggle against the colonial war.


The depth of the revolutionary transformations carried out, and the correspondence between the resulting democratic achievements and the desires, needs and aspirations of the Portuguese people, are the basis of the extraordinary progress in Portuguese society achieved with the April Revolution, whose accomplishments and conquests are still today references and essential values.


The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 25th of April is an important moment that calls upon the intervention of all democrats and patriots toward the recognition of successive generations of fighters, whose action was indispensable for the liberation of the people and the country from the yoke of fascism; for the recognition of the military of April; for the appreciation of the achievements of April against the falsifications, mystifications and concealments promoted by their enemies; for the promotion of the values of April in the struggles of the present and in the democratic and independent future of Portugal, especially among the new generations.


I


Triggered by the heroic military uprising of the Armed Forces Movement, soon followed by a popular uprising – including on May 1st 1974 – the April Revolution put an end to the fascist dictatorship and the colonial war, returned freedom to the Portuguese people, opened the way for the construction of a democratic Portugal, a Portugal of development, peace and progress, and fulfilled dreams and objectives for which successive generations fought for almost half a century.


The fascist regime was the terrorist dictatorship of the monopolies (associated with imperialism) and the big landowners. Promoting the concentration and centralization of capital and the formation of monopoly groups, the fascist dictatorship imposed by force the conditions for the accumulation of large fortunes based on exploitation and oppression.


The years of the fascist dictatorship constituted one of the darkest periods in the history of Portugal, with a history of persecutions, arrests, torture, murders, corruption as a state policy, widespread misery, poverty and illiteracy, of a colonialist country, simultaneously dominated by imperialism.


The great democratic achievements resulting from the Revolution – fundamental rights, including the formation of political parties, the right to vote, the end of censorship, freedom of trade union organization, the rights to demonstrate and strike; the adoption of a wide range of social measures, such as the increase in wages and pensions, the extension of paid vacation to 30 days, the establishment of a national minimum wage (SMN); the rights of women and youth, equality and the fight against discrimination; agrarian reform; nationalizations and workers' control; the widespread access to education, health and social security; the development and democratization of culture; the end of the colonial war, recognizing the right to independence of the peoples of the colonies; democratic local power; the development of a foreign policy of peace and cooperation and of safeguarding national independence and sovereignty – ensured the democratic regime, the end of the power of monopoly groups, the democratization of Portuguese society, the development of the country and the improvement of the living conditions of the people.


The April Revolution demonstrated that the true democratization of Portuguese society is inseparable from a regime firmly anchored in a political, economic, social and cultural democracy.


Culminating a long and heroic struggle of the working class, the workers, the popular masses and democratic forces, the April Revolution was not a sudden revolutionary act but a complex and convoluted process, in which the forces of reaction and the fascist past tried everything to impose a new dictatorial power and impede the course of democratization of national life. The transformations, reforms and democratic conquests of the revolution, achieved by the combined dynamics of the struggle of the masses and the action of the MFA, ensured extraordinary progress in Portuguese society and were in themselves a condition for the defence of freedom and democracy.


The working class, the workers, the popular masses and the progressive military – "the captains of April"–, united in the People-MFA alliance, were the protagonists of the democratic conquests, in a process wherein PCP intervened as an essential and determining political force.


Conquests that were later enshrined in the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, approved and promulgated on April 2, 1976, which incorporated the heritage of the progressive process toward liberation, the path to economic, social and cultural development and the affirmation of a free, independent and sovereign Portugal.


Conquests that are projected in today's Portugal and are a reference in the construction and future development of Portuguese society.


II


The defence of the values of April, the demand for compliance with the Constitution of the Republic and the realization of the rights and project it enshrines gain redoubled relevance in the face of the country's serious situation.


The April Revolution changed Portugal, putting it on the path of social emancipation and progress, but the counter-revolutionary process, decades of right-wing politics, oriented towards favouring and reconstituting the power of monopoly capital, the submission to external impositions, the interference and demands of imperialism, Portugal's entry into the EEC/EU and subsequent accession to the Euro, the destruction of the productive apparatus, the privatization and alienation of companies and strategic sectors and the squandering of public goods have led to increasing limitations and perversions of democracy (by curtailing the potentialities opened with the April Revolution) and to a growing vulnerability and external dependence of the country.


Economic groups use their dominance over the economy and national life to accumulate billions of euros of profits. As in the past with the successive right-wing governments of PS [Socialist Party], PSD [Social-Democratic Party] and CDS [Popular Party], today the absolute majority government of the PS is also an instrument at the service of these interests and objectives.


The expression and promotion of reactionary forces and projects – namely PSD, CDS, Chega and IL (Liberal Initiative) –constitute a threat to workers' and people's rights, to democratic freedoms, democracy and the future of the country. At the same time, there is the development of an anti-democratic offensive, with a strong anti-communist bent, aimed at limiting and conditioning the action of the Party and mass organizations, and attacking the interests of the workers and the people.


In the current national political framework, when limitations of important social, economic and political rights increase; the economic and social situation worsens; the living conditions of the workers and the people are rapidly degrading; inequalities and injustices are accentuated – with the people paying the cost for profits that increase scandalously; the economic and political dominance of big capital increases; options for submission to external interests are deepened, weakening the affirmation of national independence and sovereignty; and when, at the same time, operations to whitewash the history and nature of fascism are multiplies, the celebrations of 50th anniversary of April 25 have particular importance.


The protagonists of right-wing politics and those politically responsible for the structural problems of the country, the spokespersons and ideologues of the ruling classes try to deny, mischaracterize and call into question the true meaning of what April was and what it represents for the Portuguese people. They attempt to rewrite history, whitewash the terrorist nature of the fascist dictatorship, silence the heroic struggle of the workers and the Portuguese people and, in particular, hide and falsify PCP's unique and decisive role in resisting the fascist dictatorship, in creating the conditions for the April Revolution, in its development and in defending its achievements. To erase the revolution's profound economic and social transformations, they falsify facts and events that marked the revolution, they try to erase its most genuine and democratic character, they try to rehabilitate those who conspired against April, they disguise that there were and still are those who want to erase what it actually represented. They insist on attacking the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, preventing the realization of the rights and project it enshrines, aiming to further mutilate and impoverish it, and diminish and erase the progressive elements it contains and projects.


The April Revolution went a long way in transforming Portuguese reality. Its achievements and conquests remain or left deep marks on our collective experience. Realizations and achievements that are values in themselves, by the experience and transformational value of their realization, among other examples, in the liquidation of monopoly capital, in the realization of universal social rights, in the political participation and intervention of the popular masses – confirming these as an indispensable force for transformation and advancement.


The April Revolution opened up a time of new values and new meanings about freedom as belonging to the people and the individual; about the nature of the state and the possibility of its configuration according to the interests and needs of the people and the country and not as an instrument of capital destined to perpetuate exploitation; about the meaning of economic development with the objectives of improving the standard of living of all, of a fair and balanced distribution of national wealth, of national independence; about the role of the individual, as a worker, as a citizen, their material and cultural well-being, dignity and the improvement of their living conditions, their social and political participation; on national independence, assumed as a condition of freedom, identity, sovereignty and peace.


Values that are heritage and inspiration for all those who yearn for a better life in a fairer society. Values that are projected as realities, objective needs, experiences and aspirations in the democratic future of Portugal. Essential values in the struggle for the rupture with right-wing politics and for the patriotic and left-wing alternative.


The situation of Portugal today, while continuing to reflect the lasting impact of April's achievements and despite the mutilation or destruction of many of them, does not reflect what the country could be if April's project, inscribed in the Constitution, had been developed and consolidated. The setbacks in the social, economic, political and cultural levels and in national independence resulting from the counter-revolutionary process, from decades of right-wing politics – contrary to the values and Constitution of April – demonstrate the need for the struggle for an alternative politics, anchored in the values of April, that responds to national problems and leads the country to progress, development and social justice.


Portugal needs a policy that ensures the implementation of the rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic and its broad conception of democracy in the political, economic, social and cultural dimensions. A policy that values work and workers; defends the productive sectors and returns strategic sectors to public control; values and empowers public services and affirms the social functions of the state; guarantees the defence of the environment, territorial planning and the promotion of effective regional development; achieves the effective subordination of economic power to political power; affirms a free and sovereign Portugal in a Europe of peace and cooperation.


Today it is even clearer that the real possibility of a Portugal with a future lies in the defence and affirmation of the values of April and in compliance with the Constitution of the Republic, in the realization of its objectives, values, project of national development and individual and collective emancipation.


III


Considering the important celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 25th of April, PCP will actively participate in a very diverse set of initiatives to be carried out by the popular, associative or trade union movement, of a democratic and popular nature. PCP will also organize a series of initiatives of its own, contributing to denounce the 48 years of fascism, to affirm the importance of the April Revolution, to promote the values of April that PCP committedly incorporates in its struggle and in its project of advanced democracy. The richness of this diversity of initiatives and their promoters is also a mirror and tribute to the Portuguese revolution, its liberating role, its mass character and its achievements.


For PCP, commemorating April 25, 1974 implies informing and clarifying what was the fascist oppression and terror, what was the resistance and the antifascist struggle, the struggle of the workers and the people, of the Democrats and Patriots.


It is commemorating the military uprising of the captains of April and the immediate popular uprising that transformed it into a Revolution, the conquest of freedom, peace and the democratic regime enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic and its political, economic, social and cultural components.


It is affirming the resistance to the counter-revolutionary process and the struggle for a rupture with right-wing politics and for the patriotic and left-wing alternative, for advanced democracy-the values of April in the future of Portugal, for socialism.


The Portuguese Communist Party, the party of the working class and all workers, the party of freedom, peace, democracy and socialism, calls on all democrats and patriots, those who aspire to freedom from exploitation and oppression, that they employ their will, their voice and their struggle, to affirm and project the values of April in the future of Portugal.

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