Community Currency Systems in Chile

By Francoise Wautiez,
Instituta Ecologica Politica
Santiago, Chile

Chile’s first "multitrueque" experience was launched from the department of Ecological Economics (in the Institute of Political Ecology in Santiago) on April 7, 2000. The initial idea was to establish a bartering network that promoted solidarity and reciprocity among its members instead of the competitiveness and greed that is so often generated by the dynamics of the formal market. We also wanted to create a space, or more specifically, an alternative economy, where all of the capacities and talents that we have (but which we may be unable to utilize in the formal market) are valued. With this in mind, the bill (or voucher) which we use to facilitate the exchange of goods and services is called a "talento".

This alternative economy is centered around a "fair" which is currently operating only twice a month, where all of the participants can congregate to exchange products, eat food, listen to music, or take advantage of various services (such as tarot readings) and organize classes or workshops. We publish a bulletin with all of the goods and services offered by the members of the network as well as a telephone directory so that the participants can access any good or service outside of the fair.

There are currently close to 100 people signed up in the network, although the participation in the fairs varies between 25 and 40. This is actually one of our problems: constant (or lack of) participation by the members. During the initial half hour to forty five minutes of the fair, we usually attempt a discussion of current problems or initiatives, but the lack of participation and feedback has made it difficult to solve the more relevant problems that we are facing. In addition to general communication issues, there is also a lack of consistency in the products that are offered…that is to say, there are few participants who constantly offer products that are in demand or that are of high quality. Part of this problem is that many of the participants are professionals or students, often with little time or who lack "production savvy". This has created something of a feeling of disillusionment among some of the participants who offer quality products, but find little to "buy".

In spite of the difficulties (one of them, and very serious, is the fact that it is winter time in Chile and quite a cold and rainy one), the fairs are highly entertaining and have created links and friendships among a number of people. There is a lot of enthusiasm for the experience, and a number of people have expressed interest in creating similar networks in the own neighborhoods. Various classes (such as English, yoga, French, and improvisation theatre) have also started up as a result of the fairs, and various workshops (composting) and talks (astronomy) have been organized. Two other experiences have been launched, one in San Felipe, a small town of 50,000 inhabitants, North of Santiago and another one in Valparaiso, Chile’s famous "port". We are also permanently in contact with the Red Global de Trueque of Argentina. There is a trip planned during this month to visit some of the 20 "nodes" of the area near Mendoza (Chilean frontier).

Currently, we (the coordinators and organizers) are unsure as to the continuation and broadening of the experience. We have many ideas, but the inconsistent participation on the part of the members is a limiting factor. We intend to evaluate the experience in the near future, hopefully with the participation of various members, in order to reorganize and restructure the project to better fulfill our goals and the needs and necessities of the participants.

How to contact us:

The Instituto de Ecología Política has a web site, where you can find us, in the area of Economía Ecológica (Ecological Economics). The web site is:
We also have a mail address: (Heidi or Francoise).