Montevideo Declaration on the Solidarity Economy


Montevideo Declaration

There are alternatives: the social and solidarity economy and fair trade

The III Latin American Solidarity Economy and Fair Trade Meeting was held in Montevideo, Uruguay, October 22-24, 2008. It was attended by women and men from 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries, plus guests from Europe, North America and Oceania. The various networks and movements whose work is geared to the social and solidarity economy in Latin America and the Caribbean had an extensive exchange of experiences and intense dialogue. We address the social movements, the region’s governments and the general public with the following message:  

In Latin America new governments have been established which demonstrate civil society’s capacity and desire for social change, altering the panorama and political relations in the region. Most of these governments are critical of the neo-liberal economic model. However, large sectors of the populations of Latina America and the Caribbean are still unable to enjoy their fundamental rights and suffer the negative impact of the economic model, whose economic, social, cultural and environmental aspects continue to favor a minority to the detriment of the large majority.

The free trade agreements, as we reported from the first Meeting in Cochabamba, Bolivia (2005), besides aiming to ensure that the neoliberal economic model is irrevocable and to hinder the formulation of sovereign national public policy, have weakened sub-regional integration and have introduced new conditions which are unfavorable and exclusive, particularly for small–scale production from the countryside and the cities.

The world currently faces a panorama of perilous uncertainty: international financial turbulence, the energy and environmental crisis, global warming and food insecurity for vast sectors of the most vulnerable. These phenomena all herald a new crisis in the system, whose effects we cannot yet foresee, especially those on the standard of living and employment of large sectors of the population of Latin America, the region with the highest rate of inequality in the world, and they confirm that the prevailing hegemonic economic model is of no use and has not been for decades.

Mindful of this:

1)      We affirm once again, that the Solidarity and Social Economy is an alternative for humanity, since its chief objective is the well being of all, on the basis of productive autonomy, economic equality, social justice, environmental sustainability and political participation. This different manner of running the economy has local organization as its fundamental link in the economic process and provides the empowerment of men and women to tackle the challenge of being subjects of their own destiny, and is a strategy which contributes to the recognition of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, which stresses sustainable, cross-cultural and gender equality approaches, and strengthens local sustainable development to be projected nationally and regionally.

2)      We are committed to promoting regional integration which gives priority to rights, knowledge and interests of the Latin American and Caribbean peoples, and whose main foundations are cooperation, reciprocity and complementary action in production, trade and finance, as in all dimensions of the social life of peoples; hence unlike the free trade model which, owing to the pressure of the big transnational companies, monopolizes discussions and agreements in the World trade Organization (WTO) and in the regional and bilateral trade agreements which they wish to impose on the region.

3)      We support and accompany the struggles and demands of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean who ask for respect for their multicultural, multiethnic and multilingual character and their socio-economic contributions, based on relations of solidarity, reciprocity and cooperation.

4)      We express solidarity with the community organizations which in various countries of the region are mobilizing to defend participatory and inclusive democracy, peace, political and economic achievements, and to face the aggressive trespassing of their territory by the transnationals.

5)      We have come together to share, perfect and innovate instruments, methods and systems to improve the current levels of economic and social efficiency of the solidarity ventures, their products and services, in order to contribute to the welfare of their members and communities.

6)      We adopt the commitment to promote and/or strengthen national solidarity economy networks and movements, consolidating the opportunities for improving liaison and strengthening the organizations and their members, and for promoting strategic alliances with other social networks and movements to strengthen the solidarity economy in communities, countries and the region.

7)      We urge that the Bank of the South be an opportunity to benefit financial sovereignty in South America and an instrument for developing the solidarity economy.

8)      We demand that national governments, parliaments and local, regional and state entities in Latina America and the Caribbean open and consolidate public and participatory opportunities for formulating, implementing and monitoring specific laws, policies and programs for fostering and developing the solidarity economy.

Finally, we express our thanks for the infinite solidarity of the sisters and brothers of the Uruguayan organizations which have hosted this III Meeting. Similarly, we invite the organizations, aid agencies and academics working for the region’s solidarity economy to contribute to and participate in the IV International Meeting “The Globalization of Solidarity”� in April, 2009 in Luxembourg; and to redouble their efforts for our movement, to consolidate and extend the levels of participation and representativity achieved to date, bearing in mind the IV Latin American Meeting of the Solidarity Economy and Fair Trade, in Medellin in 2010.

Montevideo, October 24, 2008

Red Internacional de Promoción de la Economí­a Social Solidaria-Latinoamerica y Caribe (Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Solidarity Social Economy- Latin America and the Caribbean.

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