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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

The Silent Success of Venezuelan Co-ops

Before President Hugo Chávez took office in February 1999, there were 813 registered cooperatives in the country with 230,000 total members. Most of these original cooperatives are still active, tough, and resilient because they were created independent of government support or funding. The strongest of these is CECOSESOLA (Cooperatives of Social Services of Lara State). Founded in 1967, the food co-op consists of 538 worker members who sell to 60,000 shoppers each week from three locations in the city of Barquisimeto.

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For six years, from 2002 to 2008, the government invested heavily in their campaign to form cooperatives. The national cooperative supervision institute, SUNACOOP, which headed the government's campaign, focused on basic education and the legal registration of new cooperatives. This resulted in the phenomenal creation of over 280,000 registered cooperatives; however, the vast majority of those never became active or collapsed. To understand why this big investment failed to make strong co-ops, we need to look at the key factors of their success.

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Delgado said, “A research study in 2005 by Centro Gumilla, a Jesuit Center, found that 80 percent of the cooperatives that function in Venezuela did not receive any financial support from the government. This is a situation where receiving money from the government seems to have a detrimental effect on the strength and determination of the cooperative workers.”

Read the rest at Venezuelanalysis

 

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