Italian Center for Documentation on Cooperation and Social Economy | Virtual museum - Uruguay

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of cooperatives


The cooperative movement in Uruguay started with the establishment of the first agricultural cooperatives in 1909, and an agricultural credit law of 1912 provided the first legislative backdrop for cooperatives. Growth was steady in the 1924 period with the establishment of cooperatives in a variety of sectors: banking, consumer, dairy and transport. In the period 1954-44, sectors arrived at a strength which made appropriate the establishment of national federations, for agricultural and livestock, consumer and worker productive cooperatives. Also established (1961) was a national apex organization, the Uruguayan Cooperative Center. Credit (1964), housing (1966) and school (1969) cooperatives were part of the next wave of cooperative activity, soon supported by their own national federations. Growth was steady, with some consolidation of smaller societies into larger units. The ILO Director (1988) reported that Uruguay in 1984 had 860 cooperatives with 494,248 members. Growing continued, and the Organization of Cooperatives of the Americas reported that in 1991 there were 740 societies with 586 members (18.9% of the population) in the following sectors: agriculture—189 societies with 48,846 members; consumer—53237,098; credit unions—48/279,684; housing—308/12,586; and worker productive—1428,191. The membership report of the ICA in 1996 gave a total of 844,651 members (26,1% of the population).
Jack Shaffer, Historical Dictionary of the Cooperative Movement, The Scarecrow Press, Inc. Lanham, Md., & London 1999
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