Co-op Month kicked off in Puerto Rico with the raising of the co-operative flag and an official proclamation from the territory’s Commissioner for Co-operative Development, Ivelisse Torres Rivera.
At the annual ceremony, attended by many of the territory’s prominent co-operative leaders, Ms Torres Rivera said: “Throughout this month we will concentrate our efforts on highlighting the economic strength of this sector, the importance of self-management and the many contributions this social business model makes to our society.”
She emphasised the important role of savings and credit co-operatives in helping local economies recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria.
“These co-operatives are an example of what is to put into practice the seventh cooperative principle of social commitment and commitment to the community,” she said.
“So I want to bring two important issues to your attention: the first, the importance of having savings in your co-operative to access them in times of emergency. The second, that, if you know someone who is not a member of a co-operative, invite them to be part of one and enjoy their benefits.”
The month will see events take place throughout the country, promoted, co-ordinated and organised by the Liga de Cooperativas de Puerto Rico, the representative body for co-ops.
Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, mayor of Puerto Rican capital San Juan, has also thrown her weight behind Co-op Month. She renewed her commitment to fostering co-operative ventures in the capital, and announced that the city will be signing a contract with Cooperativa Cantera Embellece for the maintenance of buildings and green areas.
She also reiterated the importance of the co-op model in Puerto Rico’s recovery from Maria. “We forget that when nobody wanted to invest in this country, it was the co-operatives that started that process,” she said.
“If we want the country to really move forward, money has to stay in Puerto Rico, and the co-operative model ensures that Puerto Rican hands and Puerto Rican capital are the backbone of our development.”