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The first stirring of a cooperative approach in Chile was an attempt in the mid- XIX century by Ramon Picarte to create a cooperative community at Chillen based on the utopian ideas of Francoise Marie Charles Fourier. It proved transitory, but the next, more successful efforts led to the establishment of thrift and consumer cooperatives in 1904. Related organizational efforts were carried out in different parts of the country, and cooperatives assumed official status with the passage of the first cooperative law in 1924, followed by legislation related to agricultural cooperatives in 1929. The 1930s and l940s saw continued, gradual growth with new cooperatives formed for rural electrification and housing. The 1950s were a period of consolidation and the beginning of national federations for specific cooperative sectors, the first of which (1953) was for savings and credit cooperatives. The 1960s saw the emergence of a series of cooperative support organizations related to education and technical training, agrarian reform and general cooperative promotion, reflecting the continuing growth of the cooperative sector. A national confederation of cooperatives was established in 1968. The 1970s and 1980s found the cooperatives caught in the middle of the political and military struggles of Chile, with their overtone of Cold War ideologies. However, controlled growth and experimentation continued as cooperative leaders, with associations in different political camps, still tried to pursue a cooperative agenda. The Organization of Cooperatives of the Americas reported that in 1991 there were 1,960 cooperatives with 581,593 members (4.3% of the population) in the following sectors: agriculture 425 cooperatives/with 33,924 members; consumer—70/88,747; fisheries—46/1,494; housing—946/102,249; multipurpose 9/6,022; savings and credit—105/159,754; worker productive and service,—236/97,219 and others— 556/92,184.

Jack Shaffer, Historical Dictionary of the Cooperative Movement, The Scarecrow Press, Inc. Lanham, Md., & London 1999
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