The cooperative legislation of Guatemala in its global context is represented first by the "General Law of Cooperatives", Decree No. 82-78 of the Congress of the Republic, approved by the aforementioned entity, on December 7, 1978 and published in the Official Journal of the Republic of Guatemala, "Diary of Central America", on December 29, 1978, volume CCX, number 27, a legal body whose characteristics are framed within specialized, proprietary and general application regulations for all cooperatives in the country, without exception of class or type of cooperative. There are no special laws for specific cooperatives.
Tax laws do not recognize the nature of cooperatives and they are treated similarly to lucrative enterprises, even though the Political Constitution of the Republic and LGC itself determines the obligation of the State of Guatemala to protect cooperatives and promote the cooperative movement.
Key recommendations for improvement
- Separate the cooperative legislation, which exclusively regulates aspects concerning cooperatives, from the rules that create and regulate public bodies responsible for them
- Identify cooperatives with legal precision as special legal persons of a private nature, of deep social interest, founded on solidarity, mutual aid and self-effort, with the purpose of carrying out socio-economic activities, to meet individual and collective needs of non-profit partners.
- Extend the principle of adhesion to cooperatives of legal persons, those that are in line with the principles and values that inspire the cooperative movement, preferably service-inclined entities rather than for-profit.
- Establish clear foundations on the registration of cooperatives and consequent recognition of their legal status and develop simplified and expeditious procedures on this subject.
- Seriously promote within the policies of the State, rather than recognizing in a factual way, within the legal framework, embodying situations conducive to the true promotion and protection of the cooperative movement.
Guatemala's cooperative legislation evidences serious deficiencies and inadequacies. It is necessary to update the general regulatory framework of legal situations that generate economic and social development, in the consolidation of the National Cooperative Movement.
National legislation in the cooperative field has unfortunately been unable to achieve substantial reform, a product of the absence of necessary coordination, with consensus criteria of the prevailing cooperative sectors, coupled with the absence of the political will of the government sectors, truly committed to the cooperative movement.
The legal frameworks analysis is a tool developed under the ICA-EU Partnership #coops4dev. It is an overview of the national legal frameworks at the time of writing. The views expressed within are not necessarily those of the ICA, nor does a reference to any specific content constitute an explicit endorsement or recommendation by the ICA.