Arturo Caballero Barrón

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1989
Centro Rural Integrador de Salud y Educación (CRISE)


This profile was prepared when Arturo Caballero Barrón was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1989.
The New Idea
The fishing industry in Yucatan, claims Arturo, "is like a Mayan glyph." At first glance it seems impenetrable, incomprehensible. With time, one begins to understand each part, and how each one interacts with the other to form a whole. Yet it still remains a mystery, even to the most knowledgeable on the subject. As Arturo says, one must work at "unthreading the reality."
Arturo proposes that if the fishing cooperatives of the state of Yucatan are to become dynamic and viable they must first rid themselves of their common enemy: corruption in all its multiple masks and faces. Not only will this give them a stronger self-image and the consequent respect of others, it will also have practical implications enabling them, for example, to get credit more easily.
Combating corruption is part and parcel of creating strong links of solidarity both within and between groups. Training them in modern fishing techniques is another matter. Here Arturo has introduced a major innovation by persuading the Fishing School of the Ministry of Fisheries that illiterate fishermen can be trained in action rather than in the classroom and that they can take oral rather than written exams. The Fishing School Boat (Barco Escuela) has been a major success story, enabling coastal fishermen to obtain their diplomas of mid-sea fishing without having to sit in a classroom.
Finally, Arturo is spearheading an innovative approach to capital investment in the fishing sector. He has negotiated an agreement whereby the recently trained fishermen from the boat school and a prominent private sector enterprise will enter into a joint venture to exploit new fishing areas off the Yucatan coast. With government credits and private sector investment this is the first time that the private and the social fishing sectors have participated on an equal basis.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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