Over a hundred leaders from our country traveled to Montevideo to participate in debates, forums, workshops and sectorial meetings with other co-operative leaders from the entire continent. A strong statement was approved by the General Assembly of the Regional organization.

Leaders of almost all the federations associated to the Cooperative Confederation of the Argentine Republic participated in the VI Co-operative Summit of the Americas that was held last week in the Uruguayan capital.

Among the main activities were several keynote speeches, one moderated by the President of Cooperar and Second Vice-president of Cooperatives of the Americas, Ariel Guarco. After a detailed presentation by the United Nations Coordinator in Uruguay, Denise Cook, about the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the Argentine leader expressed the need for co-operatives to act associatively at local level to strengthen their communities, as the best way to contribute to the internationally proposed goals.

To illustrate the inter-cooperation slogan, Guarco mentioned some of the productive and commercial initiatives that integrates various companies of the solidarity economy in our country and referred to the recent launch of the Cooperative Municipalities Network.

The Vice-president of the Confederation, Edgardo Form, expanded on this project of Cooperar along with its federations, primary co-operatives and local governments to achieve the progress of solidarity economy at local level. It was a workshop about public policies, aimed to promote local development and, especially, the articulation with cooperative entities that act locally.

According to that, he stressed that the Network aims to promote “the virtuous articulation between the co-operatives and the respective municipalities, respecting the fourth principle of co-operation, that is, independence and autonomy.”

“The objective,” said the leader, “is to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of the population, taking into account that local agencies and co-operative enterprises work in a specific territory and its essence is necessarily linked to the local level”

Mr. Form provided copies of the Road Map of the Network to the President of the Confederación Uruguaya de Entidades Cooperativas (CUDECOOP), Graciela Fernández, and the Director of the Budget and Planning Office of the Presidency of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, Álvaro García.

Cooperar’s treasurer, José Orbaiceta, spoke in the workshops of co-operative work with other representatives of the International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and

Service Producers’ Cooperatives (CICOPA). In line with the previous presentations, he encouraged the integration at inter-institutional and corporate levels, helping to increase the participation of the co-operative economy in the GDP of each country.

Habitat, consumption, education, communication, agricultural production, finance and other areas in which co-operative enterprises are developed throughout the continent were some of themes of the Summit, and a special attention was also given to issues of youth and equity of gender. Regarding this last issue, the Regional Assembly of the Gender Equity Committee (CREG) of Co-operatives of the Americas approved Argentina’s Gisela Wild as secretary.

On the other hand, the II Continental Congress and I International Forum on Co-operative Law was held, with lectures by renowned jurists, researchers and cooperative leaders from  different countries around the world, including the Argentinean Dante Cracogna and several representatives of national federations.

The last day of the Summit, which was opened with the conference of Cooperativa de Trabajos Portuarios Limitada de Puerto General San Martin of Santa Fe, then had as a special condiment the words of Uruguayan Ex-President José Mujica.

“There is a cultural battle to give because life is not only money, life is time to live, and solidarity economy is closer to this while the other economy, hyper-consumerism, is functional to the accumulation of transnational corporations interests”, he said.

Before the closing of the last day of the Summit, Cooperar and the Mobilizing Institute of Cooperative Funds, Banco Credicoop, the Argentine Federation of Consumer Cooperatives and the Electric Co-operative of Zárate received from Co-operatives of the Americas the quality certification in the social balance.

Guarco – who also participated with Gabriela Buffa, president of the Youth Network and Argentinean referent at the Board meeting and, with the others representatives of national members of the Alliance, at the Regional General Assembly – considered that all the activities “exceeded the expectations of those who promoted the accomplishment of this Summit in the city of Montevideo and had a great participation by a large number of representatives of the co-operativism of our country”.

The active presence of the leaders in the different instances of the Summit “was vital in order to allow that very different histories intertwined with a common axis, the linkage with the communities and the need to deepen the transformative action of the co-operatives in their territories and, from this base, at regional, continental and global level”, he concluded.

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