Reneé Hatcher, Director of the Business Enterprise Law Clinic at John Marshall, recently traveled to Havana, Cuba to speak to a cooperative development delegation on the history of community economic development. She also attended the 29th Conference of North American and Cuban Philosophers and Social Scientists, where she presented her paper, “People over Profit: Towards a Solidarity Economy Approach to Community Economic Development.” Both events were sponsored by the Center for Global Justice and hosted by the Institute of Philosophy-Cuba.
Attendees at these events, including co-op members, writers and advocates from the U.S. and abroad, investigated the new and emerging cooperatives in Cuba as a key feature of the nation’s economic reforms. The delegation heard from Cuban scholars and members of Cuban cooperatives, including face-to-face meetings with co-op members and opportunities to exchange experiences and ideas. The trip also featured an exchange with leading Cuban thinkers discussing the reinvention of socialism and opportunities for expanded exchanges with the people of the U.S., particularly in the cooperative sector.
In Cuba, there are hundreds of new urban co-ops, which further expand the emerging non-state sector of the economy in addition to small, private businesses. Co-ops offer a socialist alternative to state employment for workers who find that the cooperative form of management not only offers them democratic participation in running their collective business but also higher incomes—typically three times higher and as much as seven times higher than in state jobs. Many of these co-ops were converted from state enterprises that now lease the building and other means of production from the state, but manage it as their own.
Hatcher joined John Marshall last year after finishing a clinical teaching faculty fellowship at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Hatcher has focused her career on public interest and social justice, creating social change through community development and human rights advocacy work.
Hatcher previously was a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis at the University of Texas-Austin, a staff attorney at the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and the inaugural Helaine Barnett Fellow at the Legal Services Corporation in Washington, DC.
A native of Gary, Indiana, Hatcher graduated from New York University School of Law in 2011.