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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Cuban Worker Co-ops

June 28, 2017
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How the Cuban Government and Cuban Workers Are Forming Worker Co-ops

Cuba has embarked on an economic development plan that will include more cooperatives.  Interestingly, early in its inception, the socialist island took the path of a more state-run economy in order to provide its workers participation in the economy.  It was heavily dependent on support from the Soviet Union.  Later, when the country suffered setbacks due to the fall of the Soviet Union, the government encouraged private businesses.  Now, cooperatives are being explored as a means of increasing worker participation in the economy.  

Last summer, the Mexico-based Center for Global Justice organized a two week educational tour to explore Cuba's cooperative development.  Twenty-eight people were a part of the tour. They were mostly from the U.S. but included people from Mexico, Canada and Germany: John Curl, author of For All the People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation: Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America; Christina Clamp, director of the Center for Cooperatives at Southern New Hampshire University, Joe Tharamangalam, a professor at St Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada, Al Campbell, of the Union for Radical Political Economics and University of Utah economics professor who has been writing about Cuba for many years, Gabriele Herbert, Institute of Self Management, two GEO co-editors Jessica Gordon Nembhard and Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo; along with other activists, professors, and students.

The tour was organized by Cliff  DuRand, retired Morgan State College philosophy professor who has been organizing trips to Cuba for 25 years and Campbell, who has also frequently traveled to Cuba and written many articles analyzing economic affairs.

The Instituto de Filosofia (Institute of Philosophy) hosted the group and during the first week lectured on different aspects of Cuban society and organized visits to worker cooperatives.  In the second week, tour members participated in the 28th Conference of North American and Cuban Philosophers and Social Scientists at the University of Havana.  At that conference, Cuban academics as well as 12 people from the delegation presented papers on cooperatives, socialism, trauma, black cooperatives, education, wealth-building and other topics – some that related directly and those indirectly to the Cuban struggle with the hope that lessons could be extracted from those struggles.  

We have reproduced some of those papers here--mostly in English but some in Spanish.  It is our hope that some of our readers could help with translation of the articles both ways.  We also have an article by Ifateyo on Cuban cooperatives and a blog on her observations, as well as a reflection by Chris Clamp, and a previously published article comparing Cuba and Kerala, India.  A few pieces are Powerpoint and we have video presentations.  


In English (presentations, articles, blogs):

Jessica Gordon Nembhard, "Cooperative Ownership in the Struggle for African-American Economic Empowerment"

Al Campbell, PhD, Union of Radical Economists, “The State, Comprehensive Planning, and Autonomous Workers’ Co-ops

John Curl, author and member of the Heartwood Collective, writes about “Market Socialism in Yugoslavia and its Relevance to Cuba

Christina Clamp, PhD, shares her Reflections on a Visit to Cuba's Urban Cooperatives.

Darien De Lu, a Sacramento activist, spoke about the importance of the movement integrating an understanding of trauma in our work.

Cliff DuRand, PhD writes on “Cooperatives in Socialist Construction”       

Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo writes on her observations of Cuban Worker Cooperatives and “co-ops in training,” as well as her personal observations of Cuba and growing up in South Florida.

Xianye Li, who pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy, wrote on “A Critique of G. A. Cohen’s Egalitarian Socialism” (.docx download)

Douglas Orr, PhD, of City College of San Francisco, writes on “Predatory lending and the stripping of African American Wealth” (PowerPoint download)

Peggy Rapp, Daily Kos, “The Cooperative Movement vs. Global Capitalism.”

Taylor Spratt, “Teaching Socialism:  Communalism and Socio-emotional Education” (.docx download) 

Joseph Tharamangalam, from St. Mary’s University, “Human Development As Transformative Practice:  Lessons from Kerala and Cuba"

Karell Acosta, PhD - "The Representation of Cuba in the New York Times after Dec. 17, 2014" (Powerpoint download)

Frank Marshalek, PhD, MPA, “Renovating Socialism:  Examples from Danish and Cuban Agriculture” (PowerPoint on Google Docs)

Jessica Gordon Nembhard, on the “Cooperatives and the Struggle for African American Economic Justice” (PowerPoint on Google Docs)

In Spanish:

Euclides Cata and Osnaide Izquierdo’s Cooperativas no agropecuarias. Desafíos e impactos para el desempeño socio-productivo y el desarrollo local en el contexto de Actualización del Modelo Económico Cubano.



Beatriz Diaz, “Encuentro de Filósofos Cuba - Estados Unidos” (PowerPoint download)

MsC. Maydi Estrada Bayona y Lic. Ángel Manzanet, “La Condición del Cuerpo como Instrumento Alternativo de Educación Intercultural y Cultura de Paz para  los Sistemas Educativos Caribeños

Video: English
Doug Orr, PhD -  “Predatory lending and the stripping of African American Wealth
Jessica Gordon Nembhard, PhD - “Cooperative Ownership in the Struggle for African American Economic Empowerment
Karell Acosta, PhD - "The Representation of Cuba in the New York Times after Dec. 17, 2014"
Camila Pinero Harnecker, PhD - "Cuban Cooperatives: Their Contribution to Cuba’s New Socialism"
Gabriele Herbert, Al Campbell and John Curl - Q&A on worker self management and socialism
Cliff DuRand - “Cooperatives and Socialist Construction