Meanwhile, amid the pandemic, co-ops have found new strength in Puerto Rico. An article published on May 31st by Oscar Serrano of NotiCel, for example, reported that cooperative credit unions in Puerto Rico had seen their assets grow from $8.8 billion in 2019 to $10.4 billion in 2020, their fastest rate of growth in a decade. More than one million of Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million people are member-owners of credit unions.
Worker cooperatives are also seeing expansion, which is one of the reasons why worker co-op policy is getting debated, even if the desired laws have yet to pass. One important effort is in energy, where the newly formed REMCOOP seeks to employ a worker cooperative model to support the diffusion of solar energy across the island.
More broadly, in Puerto Rico, cooperatives are increasingly seen as agents for economic development. A year ago, Rafael Beltrán Peña, president of the Puerto Rican Cooperative League, observed amid the initial COVID-19 economic shutdown that it is in “moments likes these…when we clearly differentiate ourselves from purely capitalist firms, and when we see the importance of legal guarantees and public policy that protects and supports cooperative organization. Because cooperation is without doubt essential and inherent to the human condition.”