And Campoy, who passed away earlier this year, believed that the fishermen of Santa Clara, San Felipe, and Puerto Peñasco have already reaped benefits from the program. “The Mexican government has invested close to $30 million in this program. We have made an exceptional exception for these fishermen,” he said. “They have been pampered.” That reality hasn’t been lost on fishermen who live outside the three communities taking part in the vaquita program. According to a member of Campoy’s team, one of those fishermen recently joked that he’d like it if they could bring a few vaquitas down to his waters.
That’s the way Ocegueda sees the vaquita, as something of a blessing. “I could have retired with nothing, but instead I left and got money,” says Ocegueda, sitting one evening on the front porch of his Internet cafe, whose front door features a poster of the vaquita. “The vaquita is saving us and we are saving the vaquita,” he says. Moments later, as the sky grew dark, a pickup truck roared up the sand street, towing a fishing boat back from the beach for the night. Ocegueda waved and watched as it passed. But he was soon distracted by the voices of neighborhood kids asking to use the Internet. He jumped up to open the door and let them in.