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transparency in matters concerning the Board of Directors. Disfunctionality or non-

functionality of Boards of Trustees has surely allowed unscrupulous cooperative leaders

opportunities for wrong doing. A working Board of Trustees could potentially avert

these problems before they become a threat to a cooperative.

When problems do happen, it is the leadership and collective participation of a

cooperative that can overcome difficulties. Cooperativa Villa Santa survived a major

crisis in 1985. They realized that the president had been embezzling substantial amounts

of money from the cooperative’s savings. New leaders took charge and were able to

recover most of the money and restore members’ confidence in the leadership. One

informant from Villa Santa said of the incident, “The old leaders became greedy, and so

we had to fix the problems in our cooperative and recover what we worked for.”

The biggest observed weakness of cooperative functionality and leadership is

education. Poor education in most of these communities has not equipped most

cooperative members with the knowledge necessary to act as cooperative leaders. In

1994, 27% of the total population was illiterate, and the percentage was 84% in rural

areas (Norsworthy and Barry, 1994). This means that a small percentage of cooperative

members have the potential to effectively manage a cooperative, which is, in essence, a

business. The percentage of members able to lead a cooperative is even less when one

considers some of the additional skills and knowledge that are desirable for cooperative

leaders. They must deal with COHDEFOR and municipality personnel and market the

products of the cooperative. Marketing is particularly difficult for cooperatives

expanding into the lumber market. Cooperative leaders are usually at a disadvantage in

these situations. The physical and cultural isolation of their communities also has an


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