Acceso Colombia – Willinton Marín, Wayuu fisher
Willinton Marín is a 32-year-old Wayuu fisher from La Guajira and the legal representative of the Asopeswa fishing association.
“Our community, conformed mainly of artisanal fishers, decided to approach the Colombian government for their help. The government built a collection center equipped with refrigerators and adequate storage. Before, we would preserve the fish with salt until we could transport it to a processing facility.”
Acceso Colombia has operated the collection center since June 2016 and has played a fundamental role in helping the community. “They [Acceso] buy the fish from us at a higher price and value the arduous work of the fisher. Before, we did not have the ability to commercialize our products to communities outside our own. We did not have the infrastructure. Now, that has changed completely.”
Willinton admits that fishers were initially skeptical and unreceptive towards the technical assistance provided. However, after observing the benefits firsthand, more fishing associations in the region have started to join the program. “People are seeing increased yields and the benefits to the community. We are taught about product handling, refrigeration, and how to best employ our fishing methods including gillnets, and longline fishing. The life of the Wayuu community has changed completely.”
Willinton lives with his wife and two daughters and studies during the weekends. He hopes to finish his studies to provide the best future possible to his family. His leadership and involvement with the Wayuu community have been instrumental in strengthening the partnership between the Asopeswa association and Acceso Colombia.