The author intends both to describe a native credit institution in a peasant community and to analyse its overt and covert functions. The community fund, managed by the local authority (presidencia auxiliar) is theoretically available to all household heads who can show solvency (e.g., by pawning a piece of property, usually land). Apart from assisting peasants who face a shortage of cash, another overt function of the system is to finance, with the interests which are paid back on the loans, the functioning of the local administration. Because of the great economic discrepancies between peasants (50 per cent of them own no land, while 2.5 per cent own 30 per cent of the land) one real, although covert, function of the credit institution is to channel a substantial amount of cash to the local upper class (which has little access to banking facilities). Therefore it actually enhances their economic domination over the majority of villagers, which fact allows us to understand the strict control they have exerted over the management of the fund since its foundation, some 40 years ago.