Opinion » Columnists
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Portuguese Communist Party loses the man but not the dream

Today's world is a vindication and justification of the ideals of everything which Alvaro Cunhal represents

Alvaro Cunhal died at dawn on 13th June at 91 years of age, having spent three quarters of a century fighting for human rights, for freedom, for democracy and against Fascist and reactionary forces. His legacy is visible today because his dreams continue to be alive amongst us, his ideals are more and more relevant and his word more the truth today than ever before.

Today's world is a vindication and justification of the ideals of everything which Alvaro Cunhal represents and the guidelines of his Project continue to be relevant and pertinent. At a time when public services enter in collapse in the capitalist-monetarist world, at a time when the forces which detain power launch murderous attacks across the globe as they try to grab its resources by the throat, at a time when western society stands at a crossroads not knowing which way to turn, searching for values, the path which Alvaro Cunhal showed us makes more sense.

Alvaro Cunhal represents an ideal in which the State provides free and high quality services in the areas of education and health, free and guaranteed housing, a society with all the capacities to provide social mobility, decent wages, decent pensions, decent values, safe streets and a constant upgrading of the cultural and professional level of the people - the Communist ideal for which he fought so hard.

He was born in Coimbra in 1913 but it was in Lisbon, at the Faculty of Law, that Alvaro Cunhal began his revolutionary activity. Member of the Portuguese Communist Party since 1931, he was elected Member of the Student Senate in 1934 and one year later, General Secretary of the Federation of Young Communists, participating in the Fourth World Congress of Communist Youth in Moscow.

In 1937 and in 1940, he was arrested, the second time being brutally tortured by the Fascist authorities of Dr. Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, going underground to reorganize the party in 1940/41 and becoming Member of the Secretariat of the Portuguese Communist Party between 1942 and 1949, when he was jailed again, spending 11 years in prison and again suffering horrendous acts of torture. However they never broke his will or determination and he remained faithful to his comrades and to his ideals to the end.

In 1960, he escaped from Peniche prison and went abroad, liaising with political figures from other countries, keeping the PCP alive in Portugal, being elected General Secretary in 1961.

Back in Portugal for the Revolution of 25th April 1974, he was Minister without Portfolio in the first four governments, being elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1975. He was elected Member of Parliament (Republican Assembly) in 1976, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985 e 1987 and he was also a member of the Council of State.

In 1992, in a process of renovation of the party's structures, Alvaro Cunhal passed the post of General Secretary to Carlos Carvalhas (the post is now held by Jeronimo de Sousa) and was nominated President of the National Council of the PCP.

Alvaro Cunhal leaves a vast range of publications, both in the political and literary areas.

Alvaro Cunhal was, and will always continue to be, an example of dedication, political coherence, courage, wisdom, honesty, respect for mankind and for human values and love for his people. If only the political class of today were to take a leaf from his book, we would be living in paradise.

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