Colombia Strengthens Regional Economies and Promotes Cooperation Instead of Competition

Latin America is emerging as a place to look for alternatives to the neoliberal economic system. In Colombia, the government led by Gustavo Petro has spent the last year restructuring the sector of small businesses and cooperatives. Petro wants to shift away from this model and into a solidarity-based system. The Colombian government has initiated solidarity-based associations of micro-businesses in eleven regions, with 33 projects planned. At a year-end meeting in Ibagué, 3,200 organizations celebrated the development of the solidarity economy in the country.

The government department for solidarity organization in Colombia launched a project to create a solidarity sector last year. The department organized local meetings on the topic of the solidarity economy, where small-scale farmers, cooperatives, and micro-enterprises could get to know each other and exchange ideas. Entrepreneurs were then trained to take on leadership positions in an educational program, enabling existing cooperatives to be strengthened and new cycles to be established.

President Gustavo Petro emphasizes the strategic importance of the solidarity sector for the economy in Colombia. He wants associations of small shopkeepers alongside financial cooperatives and associations of small potato farmers who join forces to obtain subsidised loans so they can begin the light industrialization of their products. Additionally, 30% of state contracts will no longer be carried out by large companies in the future. Joint co-operatives will take over these contracts, allowing mergers of small companies to complete larger contracts, generating more profit for the sector.

The Colombian government under President Gustavo Petro shows that there are alternatives to the neoliberal model, focusing more on the principle of solidarity by promoting the cooperative sector.

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