The Guardian 22 June, 2005


Comrade Alvaro Cunhal

We regret to inform CPA members and Guardian readers that Comrade Alvaro Cunhal, leader of the Portuguese Communist Party, has died at the age of 91.

Alvaro Cunhal dedicated his whole life to the communist transformation of society, to the cause of the working class, to internationalist solidarity, to the interests of the Portuguese people, and to the sovereignty and independence of Portugal.

Born in 1913, he began his revolutionary activity as a student at the Law Faculty in Lisbon. He was a militant of the Portuguese Communist Youth Federation and was elected as its General-Secretary in 1935. He joined the PCP in 1931.

He was arrested in 1937 and in 1940 and tortured. On his release, he returned to the struggle, working underground. He was then a member of the PCP’s Secretariat.

He was again arrested and spent 11 years in fascist jails, eight of them in solitary confinement. In January 1960 he escaped and spent the last years of the fascist dictatorship in Portugal in exile in Moscow. In 1961 he was elected Secretary-General of the PCP.

He was a key figure in the revolutionary events of April 25 1974 when the fascist dictatorship in Portugal was overthrown and the colonial war between Portugal and its African colonies of Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and St. Thomas and Principe islands was ended.

Comrade Cunhal then became a Minister without Portfolio in four provisional governments and was then elected a deputy from 1975 to 1987.

In 1962 he ceased to be PCP’s Secretary-General and was elected President of the Party’s National Council. When the position of president was abolished in 1996 he was re-elected to the Central Committee.

Comrade Cunhal was the author of many works on politics and ideology, He also wrote literary works under the pseudonym of "Manuel Tiago", and was an artist.

In a letter of condolence to the PCP, the Communist Party of Australia wrote that Comrade Cunhal was a great man, who was simultaneously a politician, writer and artist, and was respected and loved for his courage and conviction, his intelligence, insight and good humour.

Comrade Cunhal’s loss will be felt not just by the communist and working class movements in Portugal but also throughout the international communist movement.

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