Nearly one year after their initial research and education trip to Cuba, the leadership of NCBA CLUSA’s U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group (USCCWG) returned to the country to participate in an international workshop focused on local development, including the role of cooperatives. The team also met with Cuban organizations interested in supporting cooperative growth, their role in the Cuban economy and a partnership to exchange experiences with the U.S. cooperative sector.
Hosted by the University of Pinar del Rio on its campus in Pinar del Rio and the western municipality of Viñales, the workshop brought together close to 100 participants from civil society, academia and the private sector, along with more than 20 international participants from the Americas and Western Europe. The purpose of the workshop was to better understand the current policies and implementation around the Cuban economy, and how Cuba and other countries are developing policies and programs that facilitate cooperatives, civil society and private-sector initiatives that promote inclusive and sustainable local development.
With the recent reestablishment of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba, there is now even greater opportunity for substantive dialogue and learning exchanges between the cooperative sectors in the U.S. and Cuba. The USCCWG was presented to a larger group of Cuban and international practitioners who recognized its value as a unique platform to promote cooperatives as a vehicle for inclusive economic growth.
“NCBA CLUSA’s creation of a platform for learning and exchanges between U.S. and Cuban cooperatives couldn’t come at a more important time,” said Amy Coughenour, NCBA CLUSA’s COO for International Development, who presented on NCBA CLUSA’s work and the objectives of the USCCWG during the trip. “We have the opportunity to shape this relationship and significantly impact our cooperatives and economies for the better.”
In addition to participating in the workshop, NCBA CLUSA met with the National Association for Cuban Economists and Accountants (ANEC) to discuss a potential collaboration that would advance the USCCWG’s mission of strengthening cooperatives in both countries. In these meetings, Coughenour met with ANEC President Oscar Luis Hung Pentón, Vice President of International Relations Hugo Pons and Vice President of Administration and Treasury Mildays Tasé Cruzata to better understand each organization’s respective missions, histories and services, and to discuss potential collaboration that would bring the two countries’ cooperative sectors together in a positive and substantive way.
ANEC was founded in 1979 and has more than 80,000 members, making it one of Cuba’s largest professional organizations. The organization was instrumental in developing manuals, training and technical assistance to help facilitate Cuban cooperative development.
NCBA CLUSA also met with other Cuban NGOs with national mandates to support the cooperative sector that are interested in future joint activities, which are expected to include technical exchanges, visits to the U.S. and Cuba and a Cooperative Forum in Havana.
NCBA CLUSA’s engagement with Cuba is supported by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation and the U.S. cooperative sector.