Published July 16, 2019 | Version v1
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Cooperative resistance: conflicts over water from the viewpoint of cooperative actions in the Province of Cordoba, Argentina (in Spanish)

  • 1. National University of Cordoba, Argentina

Description

This article addresses the threats and obstacles facing water-service cooperatives in Argentina. It focuses on the experiences of the water cooperatives of Villa Carlos Paz, Rio Ceballos, Unquillo-Mendiolaza, and Agua de Oro, in the Province of Cordoba, Argentina, but the lessons are applicable to a wider range of cases. It is based on the author’s doctoral research, which uses a mixed-methods methodology, including participatory case-study research. The article presents an overview of the historical development of the cooperative movement in Argentina, with emphasis on the water-service cooperatives. It discusses the multiple characteristics of the cooperatives, showing that many cooperatives fail to meet the basic criteria set by the international cooperative movement and resemble private operations or have a very low compliance with cooperative principles. The focus is placed on a set of cooperatives that make an effort to live up to the cooperative principles and have also developed strong networks with social movements and other organizations to resist the threats posed by neoliberal policies since the 1980s, particularly the attacks on the cooperative movement and the attempts to privatize water services and water sources.

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This is Article 4, Vol. 5, No 4, of the WATERLAT-GOBACIT Network Working Papers (http://waterlat.org/publications/working-papers-series/)

Article 4 was authored by Joaquín Ulises Deon, a PhD student in Social Agrarian Studies at the National University of Cordoba (UNC) on a studentship from CONICET, Argentina, also working on a joint PhD on Urban-Regional Studies between the Bauhaus Universität Weimar, Germany, and UNC, Argentina. The article partly complements the previous one by addressing important aspects of the history of the cooperative movement in Argentina, highlighting the fact that not all cooperatives adhere to cooperative principles, and many are in fact private enterprises in disguise. The paper addresses the development of cooperatives, and particularly water-service cooperatives, in the arid Province of Cordoba, Argentina, and focuses in more depth on four cases that the author considers are examples of genuine cooperative experiences. The article presents a very critical assessment of government policies against water-service cooperatives at the national, provincial and local levels, and shows evidence of the multiple pressures facing the cooperative movement in the province. Cooperatives have developed successful strategies to cope with these pressures, by establishing alliances with social movements and civil society organizations, exercising legitimate leadership in local and regional struggles to defend their water sources from the aggressive expansion of extractivist activities, including mining, agribusinesses, and private urbanizations.

 

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