The Bolivian mining cooperative protests and the August 25 killing of the Bolivian Vice-Minister of the Interior Rodolfo Illanes by cooperative miners requires us to question our assumptions about the cooperatives. Most of Bolivia’s mining cooperatives began during the Great Depression as miners banded together to work a mine in common. However, like many cooperatives in the US that arose out of the 1960s, they have turned into small businesses. Regardless of their initial intentions, cooperatives existing in a capitalist environment must compete in business practices or go under.
This month marked the 10th anniversary of the founding of ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America), an anti-imperialist and anti-neoliberal alliance of Latin American countries. ALBA, which means dawn in Spanish, is a cooperative regional organisation that advances Latin American integration around an alternative to unbalanced neoliberal trade agreements advanced by the United States.