A Cuban delegation of 10 influential people from a burgeoning cooperative movement in that country confirmed that they will take part in the 2012 International Summit of Cooperatives and Imagine 2012, the International Conference on Cooperative Economics, which is the official pre-summit event.
The head of the delegation is Wendy Holm, an Agrologist and MCCCU graduate student with the Faculty of Management of the Sobey School of Business of Saint Mary’s University. Wendy has been working with farm organizations in Cuba for over a decade. The participation of the Cuban delegation was made possible through an invitation by Saint Mary’s University, its financial support and the financial support of other organizations, including the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Desjardins, Vancity and Université de Sherbrooke.
Ms. Holm was the organizer of the conference entitled Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk: Co-operative Workshops Series”, held in December 2011 in Havana, Cuba to introduce co-op colleagues to Cuba’s shift to a more cooperative, people-centered economy. The participation of the Cuban delegation to IMAGINE2012/SUMMIT is one of the outcomes of that conference.
In her invitation to others to participate in the December workshops, Holm wrote:
“Cuba is about to step forward on a new co-operative path. In its Sixth Congress last April, the Cuban Communist Party committed to an evolution from state socialism to co-operative control in many sectors of Cuba’s economy. Cuba could be the first nation to get this right. Without mountainous foreign debt to the World Bank and IMF that has constrained the sovereign choice of others, Cuba is relatively free to walk her own path. And without a capitalist sector, Cubans are more likely to consider worker and producer coops, for example, as a real option, not just a way-station on the road to capitalism. Because agricultural co-operatives have a long tradition of working well in the Cuban economy, farmers will lead the way down this wider co-operative path – joining to form “second tier” co-operatives to provide, for example, further-processing, value added services to the members. But there are some very interesting considerations. The purpose of this educational tour’s workshops is to bring together co-operative champions/thought leaders in Havana to understand what is happening and share ideas and networks to support its success.”
“We are very excited that our Cuban colleagues are attending Imagine and the Summit. The Havana Workshops in 2011 were the catalyst. Participation of this Delegation in IMAGINE 2012/QUEBEC SUMMITis the beginning of what I hope will be strong engagement and support from our international cooperative community. We all need to become cheer leaders for Cuba’s success, because of Cuba can do it, we have another wonderful lesson from this tiny island nation: sustainable food AND sustainable economics!”, concludes Ms. Holm.