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The Costa Rican co-operative movement changes its flag

31 December 2014

Costa Rican co-operatives are starting 2015 with a new flag, according to the decision of the XIII National Co-operative Congress in the month of December. The new emblem incorporates the Co-operative Marque approved by the International Co-operative Alliance at its last Conference and General Assembly held in Cape Town, South Africa.

The decision to change was made in the thirteenth edition of the National Congress of Co-operatives (CONACOOP), held on December 6th and was then ratified by the National Assembly, held on December 19th in Puntarenas. CONACOOP is the highest body of the Costa Rican co-operative structure, and it organizes the Congress and the National Assembly of the sector.

The motion passed at the close of the National Congress establishes that: "the Costa Rican co-operative Movement and its governing bodies shall adopt the flag proposed by the International co-operative Alliance (ICA) and the COOP symbol, as official emblems of the sector and undertake to promote their widespread dissemination, in order to strengthen the identity and public image of the national co-operative movement".

Co-operatives of the Americas helped promote the initiative through its Regional Director, Manuel Mariño, who participated in the National Congress with a presentation on the characteristics and the initial progress in the implementation of the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, developed and promoted by the International Co-operative Alliance with the core purpose of making the co-operative business model the recognized leader in the construction of economic, social and environmental sustainability, the model preferred by people, and the fastest growing business model for 2020.

The new Marque -which together with the .coop domain constitutes the core of the proposed new identity of the co-operative movement worldwide- is one of the key results of the work of the Alliance on one of the five pillars of the Blueprint, and it has already been adopted by hundreds of co-operative organizations worldwide. Speaking at the National Congress, Mr. Mariño stressed the importance for the co-operative movement of Costa Rica to actively join this global initiative, both to benefit from it as well as to support the global efforts towards reaching the so-called "2020 Vision".

The new symbol sports in its center the new Co-operative Marque in white letters on a blue background. Technically, the pantone (exact color) used in the background is # 2d47bb, one of the seven color alternatives proposed by the Alliance in the manual of this new identity component.

This decision has then established the replacement of the flag of seven horizontal colors (emulating the rainbow) which the co-operative movement had been using since 1923. This flag had never been registered by the co-operative movement representative organizations, so it has been in use by other social groups around the world, generating frequent confusion. According to Gustavo Fernández, communications manager of the National Institute for Co-operative Development (INFOCOOP), "it has been found to be in use by Italian unions and indigenous people in the southern part of America. Since the 70s and 80s it has been used by the diversity movement, a group that managed to position it very well internationally." The symbols of the co-operative movement are not binding so "in recent years some groups, particularly students’ co-operatives, have refused to use the previous flag" admitted Fernández. Because this agreement was reached at the CONACOOP, the highest organ of the movement, it is expected that the new flag will be displayed in all the activities of co-operatives.

Meanwhile, Jesús Villalobos, president of CONACOOP, said that "this agreement seeks to further enhance the image of the co-operative movement". He also reported that from January 5, 2015 the new flag will fly in all activities and be printed on all the stationery of the governing body.

It should be mentioned that organizations wishing to use the new flag of the Costa Rican co-operative movement must request prior authorization at the www.identity.coop website.

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