Economic difficulties have been one of the main factors of migration in Latin America. Paraguay has been no exception, and much of its population is now outside the country, with a major presence in some countries, mainly Argentina.
ZAPACOOP has been an experience that demonstrates the value of worker cooperatives for the return of workers, who for various reasons have decided to return to their homes after years of living abroad. This is the successful case of this cooperative active in the production of shoes as the point of origin of a group of workers who developed the jobs in Buenos Aires. They saw that it could be an opportunity to return home, organize their knowledge and work cooperatively.
Committed to diversifing the Paraguayan cooperative
Just over a decade ago, the Paraguayan Confederation of Cooperatives (CONPACOOP) decided that a proactive attitude of the cooperative movement itself was necessary to promote the organization of cooperatives in sectors traditionally not present in Paraguay. Very strong in the areas of savings, credit and farming, the cooperative movement in Paraguay had not developed much under the worker cooperative form. Thus a strategic definition of the organization came into being toencourage the creation and development of such cooperative .
The first problems were soon discovered because of the absence of an appropriate legal framework. The legislation did not include details about this kind of cooperative, and there was no tradition in this regard. Rather, the legislation represented huge obstacles to the sector. For example, the minimum number of members, designed for large cooperatives, as are standard in the country, is 20 members. Therefore, the first actions of the Confederation aimed to improve these aspects, making some progress through specific decrees by the public authority, the INCOOP. Another key aspect was to develop trade with the countries of the region involved in the initiative "Red del Sur", and to join CICOPA, also encouraging the creation of a sectoral federation that is still in the process of development. In Paraguay there are some 30 worker cooperatives in manufacturing sectors (an emblematic example is the cooperative Cerro Guy, active in the ceramic sector) and services.
CONPACOOP is working with CICOPA Mercosur, the Italian NGO Cospe, and the Andalusian School of Social Economy, for the promotion of new cooperatives, or at least “pre – cooperatives” projects. Since the minimum number of members has not been modified in legislation, the Confederation has agreed to encourage the Parliament in this respect, so as to make it similar to the model, which is more common in the region and throughout the world.
International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and
Service Producers' Cooperatives
Secretariat: C/O European Cooperative House - avenue Milcamps 105
1030 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 543 1033, fax: +32 2 543 1037