Colombia’s confederation of co-operatives (Confecoop) has launched an appeal asking its member co-ops to continue to promote peace.
A referendum this month saw voters reject a peace deal between president Juan Manuel Santos and the leader of rebel guerilla movement FARC, Timoleón Jiménez.
The deal, aimed at ending a 52-year civil war, needed to be ratified by Colombians but only 38% of those eligible to vote turned out, with 50.2% of these voting against.
The ceasefire with Farc will end on 31 October, but president Santos, who won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, said he would continue to work towards a solution.
Over six million Colombians are members of a co-op, and a statement on Confecoop’s website called on them to remain active in promoting peace.
“As part of the civil society, we ask that the bilateral ceasefire is maintained as a basic condition for the tranquillity of the society, particularly in rural areas, given that the decision was taken jointly with the civil society, with all social forces, not just political sectors,” it said.
The confederation confirmed it would continue to promote its Programme for Colombia for 2016-2020, which highlights the contribution co-ops can make to peace. It was set out at the national co-operative congress in August and aims to consolidate co-ops as incubators of social and economic development.
“Co-ops continue to work on building an inclusive and pacifist society,” reads the statement. “Confecoop is calling on all co-operators to continue to participate in this historic moment for the country, thinking and acting based on the values and principles which inspire the co-operative movement: recognising the dignity of human beings, with honesty and transparency, bringing and demanding long-term solutions for the country’s problems.”
Co-ops are also helping unite communities affected by the conflict. Casa Nacional del Profesor (Canapro), a co-op providing financial and recreational services to employees in the education sector, recently won the prize Take up Peace (Emprender Paz), for an agro-forestry project developed in a rural area hit by the war. The project helped generate employment for over 70 people and contributed to environment conservation.
“Co-operatives in industry and services give their support to Confecoop in their plea to all Colombians for peace,” said the organisation.
“As co-operatives, we are builders of peace. Co-operativism, which started in Colombia 85 years ago, has brought with it major inroads towards the building of a harmonious society, development, and democracy, in all the communities it has touched.”
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