Wednesday, January 27, 2016


By David Bacon
The American Prospect,  January 27, 2016

Immigrant youth groups protest the detention and deportation of young migrants and their families in front of a federal building in Oakland, Calif.

When President Obama appointed Dollie Gee to the U.S. District Court in 2010, he undoubtedly didn't expect her to mount a frontal challenge to his administration's detention and deportation policies. But five years after her elevation as the first Chinese American woman on the federal bench, Gee ruled last summer that holding Central American women and children in private detention lockups was illegal.

Gee didn't mince words. She called the detentions "deplorable." And she denounced as "fear-mongering" the claim by Homeland Security lawyers that the detentions would discourage more people from leaving Central America.

Her angry tone shouldn't have come as a surprise. Gee's father was an immigrant engineer and her mother a garment worker in a Los Angeles sweatshop. After law school, as a young lawyer, Gee sued employers for discrimination and then worked for the Teamsters Union, helping workers and immigrants win representation elections. For Chinese Americans, today's detentions contain ugly echoes of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which led to the brutal detention of thousands of Chinese immigrants on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay 128 years ago.

Gee ruled that imprisoning families violated the Flores Settlement, an agreement by the federal government in 1997 that it would release children whenever possible, and hold them in the least restrictive conditions when it could find no one to care for them. But the U.S. appealed Gee's ruling, handed down in August of last year, and in December the Obama administration announced that it would begin deporting Central American migrants who had arrived after May 2014, and who had lost their appeals before immigration judges. Agents then picked up 121 people, including women and children, and sent them to detention centers in Texas.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, defended the action. "Our borders are not open to illegal migration," he said at a press conference. "If you come here illegally, we will send you back consistent with our laws and values."

On the one hand, President Obama acknowledges that families crossing the border are fleeing violence at home in Central America. On the other, he blames people for coming.

The statement captures one side of the administration's contradictory treatment of Central American immigrants. On the one hand, President Obama acknowledges that families crossing the border are fleeing violence at home in Central America. On the other, he blames people for coming. "Do not send your children to the borders," Obama warned in 2014. "If they do make it, they'll get sent back." In that sense, the Obama administration is perpetuating the nation's decades-old practice of ejecting and detaining Central American immigrants, even as U.S. policy makers help foster the very conditions that encourage them to flee north across the border.

The latest wave of women and children from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala began arriving on the U.S. border in 2014, prompting the right-wing Breitbart News Network to launch a campaign of hysteria. Agents at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, presumably at the behest of conservatives within their ranks, chimed in with allegations that detention centers were being "flooded" by Central American children.

In response, the Obama administration pushed forward construction of two privately run facilities in Texas, designed to hold 1,500 people between them. When immigrant advocates voiced outrage, the administration began processing asylum claims more rapidly, to shorten stays in the centers. At the same time, the administration defended its much broader decision to defer the deportation of family members of legal residents and citizens. When a Texas judge declared that decision illegal in 2014, the administration began a long appeals process that has now brought the case before the Supreme Court. Twenty-six states, almost all with Republican governors, joined the suit against the Obama order.

Both the administration's threats and detentions have failed to reduce migration, however. Some 58,650 non-Mexicans were picked up on the U.S.-Mexico border during the last three months of 2015. The number of unaccompanied children apprehended was 17,370, compared to 7,987 during the same period the year before, while the number of families went from 7,468 to 21,469.

Blaming the wave of migration on "violence" is far too simple. Modern migration from Central America began with the counterinsurgency wars of the 1980s. The Reagan administration cast as a Cold War threat what were essentially civil conflicts to change societies dominated by wealthy elites, and intervened to support right-wing militaries and contras. As U.S.-backed armies and contras waged war on civilians, hundreds of thousands of people fled.

Sergio Sosa, a Guatemalan immigrant who now directs Omaha's Heartland Workers' Center, recalls bitterly: "The U.S. was responsible for the coups that happened in Guatemala in 1944 and later in '54. Our army was trained at the School of the Americas, and they would come back afterwards and kill our own people. The U.S. used its power and we buried the dead."

An estimated 500,000 Salvadorans arrived in the U.S. in the 1980s, and tens of thousands more fled Honduras and Guatemala. As a result, thousands of families have been separated for decades.

Many settled in the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods of big U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, and were recruited into gangs. The Los Angeles police-many of whom were later found guilty of robbery, murder, and selling drugs themselves-launched the notorious Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) program that arrested and deported young immigrants by the thousands.

But instead of convincing young people in L.A. not to join gangs, deportation spread gang culture through Central America. The name of the Trece (13) gang, for instance, refers to 13th Street in Los Angeles, not in Tegucigalpa.

As the Central America civil wars wound down, the administration of George H.W. Bush sponsored development programs designed to woo investors from the U.S. USAID built the infrastructure for industrial parks in San Pedro Sula, for instance, a small city in Honduras, and lured U.S. garment companies to relocate there. That process accelerated with passage of the Central America Free Trade Agreement.

The expansion of factories at first drew people in from the countryside, although wages were low. Workers testified to earning 270 lempiras per week at the time (about $30 in 1994). But once drawn into the global economy they were then abandoned. In the last decade most of the factories have closed as operators moved production yet again, to Bangladesh or China.

That combination of low wages, unemployment, and gang culture created a violent environment, leading some U.S. media to name San Pedro Sula "the murder capital of Central America."

In 2009, Hondurans tried to find an alternative. A populist president, Manuel Zelaya, raised the country's minimum wage, gave subsidies to small farmers, cut interest rates and instituted free education. All were measures that would have given people a future at home. Nevertheless, after the Honduran military overthrew his government, the Obama administration rapidly gave approval to the coup regime that followed. If social and political change had taken place in Honduras, far fewer Hondurans would be coming to the U.S.        

Today, Central American children and families are migrating because they are trying to reunite families divided by war and migration, fleeing violence caused by war and deportations, and looking for an economic escape from poverty intensified by free trade agreements and globalization.

Threats, detentions, and more border walls are simply no match for the enormous pressure on families to leave home.

Threats, detentions, and more border walls are simply no match for the enormous pressure on families to leave home. Giving one migrant asylum because she is fleeing violence, and denying it to another because she has no job and no food at home, is a distinction that only makes sense to people far removed from the reality both women face.

The Obama administration has faced massive protests and civil disobedience over its deportation policy, which has resulted in the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of people each year since the president took office. Young people have even blocked buses carrying people to the deportation centers. The decision to begin deportations of Central American mothers and children has provoked even more protests.

On January 19, immigrant-rights groups filed another suit against the Department of Homeland Security and nine other federal agencies, accusing the government of refusing to provide documents or details on what plaintiffs allege is "a controversial and secretive deportation program" known as the "Priority Enforcement Program."

The protests are reverberating on the presidential campaign trail. The Republican candidates, falling in line behind Donald Trump and his hate-filled rhetoric, have all cheered the deportations and condemned immigration proposals that would provide legal status to undocumented people. Democrats, however, have distanced themselves from the administration on detentions and deportations, mindful of mounting anger among Latinos, Asian Americans, and unions-all key progressive voting blocs. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley have all called for an end to mass deportations and for the closure of privately run detention centers for families.

Ending detentions and mass deportations will require political courage and action from whoever is elected-more than just a campaign promise. But as important as that action is, it will still not reach the roots of this current forced migration. Those roots lie in a history of military intervention on the side of wealthy elites, trade policies intended to benefit U.S. investors, and decades of deportations that have separated families. Getting at the roots means changing those basic policies. Those who want change have their work cut out for them-organizing a movement that can make the next president willing to accept the challenge.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


Photoessay by David Bacon
Equal Times, 20 January 2016

On 29 March 2015, US photographer and labour activist David Bacon followed a group of farm workers in the San Quintín Valley in the Mexican state of Baja California as they marched to the US border.

Thousands of workers - who pick strawberries and tomatoes for the US market - went on a two-week strike in protest over their poverty wages. These farm workers, who mainly come from the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca and make up the bulk of the agricultural workforce in Baja, are paid about US$9 a day; they were demanding wages of about 300 pesos, or US$24.

Growers bring over whole families, particularly Mixtec and Triqui indigenous peoples, to live in labour camps and housing notorious for poor conditions. The whole operation is reminiscent of the maquiladora [export assembly plants] industry, transplanted into agriculture.

The big companies walked out of negotiations with the workers March, and signed contracts with government-affiliated unions that were not on strike. They promised 15 per cent pay rises for the workers, which is much less than what they were asking for.

The biggest US distributor, Driscoll's, claimed its main grower, BerryMex, pays higher rates of US$5 to US$9 per hour - a highly dubious claim, according to activists. The growers want to move towards a code of conduct that avoids any negotiation or contracts with the striking union, the Alianza. At the same time, growers brought more workers up from southern Mexico to break the strike.

In a final negotiation session between the workers' organisation, the Alianza, and the government on 4 June 2015, authorities announced a new minimum wage in San Quintín of 150 (approximately US$8.40), 165 (US$9.20) or 180 pesos (US$10) a day, depending on the size of the employer.

But at the top daily wage of 180 pesos, a Baja field worker has to work for almost three hours to buy a gallon of milk. Workers also say the companies are not abiding by the agreement, and have announced their support for a boycott of Driscoll's berries.

Fidel Sanchez, leader of the strike told Bacon:  "Consumers eat the fruits and the vegetables that these workers are producing, but know next to nothing about the workers themselves. This march, and the strike itself, show that workers are no longer willing to be invisible."

Striking farm workers from the San Quintín Valley in Baja California took buses to Tijuana, the largest city in the state. Two strikers hold a handmade sign, which says: "Wage raise!"

Strikers fill a bus headed for the border. An indigenous Triqui woman wears a distinctive huipil, or overblouse, from her hometown. Triqui women are famous weavers. The strikers are almost all indigenous Mixtec and Triqui migrants from Oaxaca, in southern Mexico.

After getting off the bus in Tijuana, striking farm workers line up to march to the border.

Two striking farm workers hold signs in front of the bus that has brought them to Tijuana. One says: "San Quintín Demands a Dignified Wage for Farm Workers." The other says: "Wage Raise to 300 Pesos a Day."

Bonifacio Martinez, a leader of striking farm workers, speaks at a rally as the workers prepare to march to the border. On the left is Fidel Sanchez and on the right is Justino Herrera, both were leaders at the time of the workers organisation, the Alianza.  Sanchez is still an Alianza leader, while Herrera left to form another organization.

The daughter of a striking farm worker reads a statement she wrote about the reasons her family went on strike. She wears the distinctive Triqui huipil from her hometown in Oaxaca.

 As the workers' march heads for the border, strikers carry a banner with their main demand. It says: "We Demand a Fair Wage of 300 Pesos a Day."

A double line of striking farm workers marches through the streets of Tijuana on 29 March 2015.

A woman can't contain her anger as the strikers march through the Zona del Rio in the center of Tijuana.

Indigenous Triqui women lead the march of striking farm workers as it arrives at the fence at the Mexico-US border. Workers marched to the border to draw attention to the fact that the tomatoes and strawberries they pick are exported to the US.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


By Jose R. Padilla and David Bacon
NY Times, JAN. 19, 2016

Oakland, Calif. - ACROSS the country, some 400,000 women, mostlyimmigrants, work in agriculture, toiling in fields, nurseries and packingplants. Such work is backbreaking and lowpaying. But for many of thesewomen, it is also a nightmare of sexual violence.

In a 2010 study from the University of California, Santa Cruz, morethan 60 percent of the 150 female farmworkers interviewed said they hadexperienced some form of sexual harassment. In a 2012 report, HumanRights Watch surveyed 52 female farmworkers; nearly all of them hadexperienced sexual violence, or knew others who had. One woman toldinvestigators that her workplace was called the "field de calzón," or "field ofpanties." As an Iowa immigrant farmworker told her lawyer, "We thought itwas normal in the United States that in order to keep your job, you had tohave sex."

The reasons behind this epidemic aren't hard to fathom. Fields are vastand sparsely monitored; workers are often alone. It's particularly bad forimmigrant workers: The Department of Labor estimates that about half offarmworkers don't have legal immigration papers, which makes themespecially vulnerable.

So do low wages and competition for jobs: Male farmworkers make anestimated $16,250 a year and female ones $11,250 a year. With depressedwages and so many workers competing for the same job, women arehesitant to complain.

The problem is hardly a secret. Two decades ago the EqualEmployment Opportunity Commission, along with California Rural LegalAssistance, a legal service program that promotes the interests of migrantlaborers and the rural poor, created a joint project to concentrate on sexualharassment in the fields.

In 2005, the commission won a $994,000 victory for Olivia Tamayo, aworker at one of California's largest cattlefeeding operations, who wasrepeatedly raped by her supervisor. "He took advantage because he knew Iwasn't going to say anything," she told Ms. Magazine. "It was a trauma thatfollowed me everywhere."

In September, in one of the largest settlements of its kind, thecommission won over $17 million for five farmworkers in Florida who hadaccused their supervisors of rape and harassment. Some 18 similar casesnationally after 2009 have given women farmworkers $4 million.

Yet these cases involve only a tiny percentage of women who work inagriculture. Research shows that harassment and abuse are much morewidespread - and casebycase litigation isn't enough to change that.When women do file complaints, investigations can takes months, evenyears, which can discourage other women from speaking up. And evenwhen a case is won, criminal prosecution of the harasser or rapist rarelyfollows.

There are several steps we can take to slow this scourge. Education andoutreach are critical - not just for women working in the industry, but alsofor consumers who can put pressure on the industry to crack down. At thesame time, employers themselves often don't know what's going on in theirown fields.

Still, many employers do know - and use threats and intimidation tokeep their workers quiet. We need stronger laws against retaliation, andprotections for undocumented workers who come forward.

The administrative barriers to complaints must also be addressed. TheEqual Employment Opportunity Commission has few offices in rural areas;they're usually open only when women are working; and the staff oftendon't speak Spanish, much less indigenous languages. What's more, manygovernment agencies require complaints to be filed online. Manyfarmworkers do not have access to computers. The commission could makefiling complaints easier by setting up a 24/7 hotline in multiple languages,with an actual person answering the phone, instead of automated messages.

Criminal prosecution of sexual assault cases needs to increase as well.District attorneys and state prosecutors must step in, making indictmentsand fining bosses who tolerate harassment. Women will feel safer filingcomplaints if they know their attackers can't just walk away. There has beensome success along these lines, including a recent conviction in San Benito.

But perhaps the biggest impediment to fighting harassment in thefields is America's immigration policy itself. Federal regulations forbid legalaid organizations like California Rural Legal Assistance from directlyrepresenting undocumented people, and the illegal nature of their worksituations makes it difficult for them to come forward. Finding a pathtoward documentation and legal employment for these women would alsoempower them to report those who rape and harass them.

Last year, California Rural Legal Assistance settled a $1.3 million casefor a farmworker who was assaulted in a raspberry field, and then sent backto work in her bloody and ripped clothes. "It's the saddest thing that hashappened to me in my life - for me it's like a wound that's there," our clientsaid during the sentencing phase of the case. "I just don't know how I'll beable to get out of this trauma."

José R. Padilla is the executive director of California Rural Legal Assistance.David Bacon is the author of "The Right to Stay Home."

Monday, January 11, 2016


Dispatch from Hanoi, 12/29/15
By David Bacon
Foreign Policy in Focus:

Photo of the bombing of Hanoi Station on Christmas Day 1972, from the Hoa Lo Museum in Hanoi.

On the plane to Hanoi earlier this month, I opened my copy of the New York Times to find an article by Dave Philipps: "After 60 Years, B-52's Still Dominate the U.S. Fleet." The piece stuck with me for weeks as I traveled through north Vietnam, trying to unravel U.S. amnesia towards the people of this country and what they call "the American war."

Philipps ends with a quote from a former South Vietnamese Navy officer, Phuoc Luong.  "American technology is super," he tells him.  "It's a great plane. In Vietnam we didn't use it enough. That's why we lost."

If anyone knows the B-52, it's the people of Hanoi. The enormous planes bombed them day and night for twelve days at Christmas in 1972.  Today there's a museum dedicated to the bomber, and the wreckage of one still sits in a small lake in the middle of the city.

When I tried to imagine what it was like living amid the constant deafening explosions, I found an earlier article in the archives of Mr. Philipps' newspaper that gives an idea.  It describes a visit by Telford Taylor, who'd been a judge at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, folksinger Joan Baez, and two other U.S. citizens in 1972.  They'd gone to Hanoi that Christmas to deliver mail to pilots of those B-52s.  Some had managed to survive being shot down while delivering President Nixon's brutal holiday greeting, and then were apprehended by the people they'd been bombing. 

The visitors described their fear in the midst of cataclysmic destruction, and their subsequent journey through the city and its ruins.  "The most horrible scene that I've ever seen in my life was when we visited the residential area of Khan Thieu [sic], and as far as I could see, everything was destroyed," mourned Yale University Divinity School associate dean Michael Allen.

Thirty years later another Times writer, Laurence Zuckerman, also wrote about this iconic airplane:  "The B-52's Psychological Punch: The Enemy Knows You're Serious."  Zuckerman was reacting to a documentary on the B-52s by filmmaker Harmut Bitomsky.  Zuckerman's piece was not exactly a paean to the aging airplane, but like Philipps, he couldn't quite hide a certain admiration for its long life. 

The B-52 was built originally in the early 1950s to drop nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union.  Since then it's carried "conventional" bombs, releasing them instead over people and homes in dozens of other countries. "It is the longevity and versatility of the giant bomber, which started flying in 1952 and is expected to remain in service until 2037, that is so fascinating," Zuckerman commented.

While both writers carefully note that carpet bombing inspired massive protests both in the U.S. and internationally, what's glaringly absent in their pieces is any sense of what it means to be under the B-52, on its receiving end.

The Christmas bombing of Vietnam was a war crime.  No U.S. official was ever tried and punished for it, and it was as irrational as it was savage.  The negotiations for the U.S. troop withdrawal from South Vietnam would reach a conclusion within a few weeks of it.  Could some minute extraction of leverage in those talks have been worth the deaths of more than a thousand Vietnamese? 

Throughout the eight years in which the U.S. bombed North Vietnam, its bombers had few military targets.  One airman quoted by Philipps tried to claim that bombing nevertheless had some strategic value:  "We're doing a lot more than killing monkeys and making kindling wood out of the jungle," he claimed.  The B-52s targets, however, were people and the infrastructure that held their lives together.  U.S. planes bombed dikes to try to cause flooding in Hanoi and the countryside.  They bombed the Long Bien railroad bridge - the link that brought food and coal into Hanoi so that people could eat and keep warm. 

The B-52s and their accompanying F-4s and F-14s bombed the small town of Sapa in the hills north of Hanoi, near the Chinese border.  Sapa is the cultural center for many of Vietnam's ethnic minorities.  It has no military value.  Why bomb it, if the purpose was not to terrorize people and extract revenge for their defiance?

Traveling through the north, I sometimes asked ordinary people - taxi drivers or restaurant workers - what I should see in Hanoi.  Mostly they'd tell me to go to the Army Museum.  One morning I did, and I could see why.  On the ground outside the main halls are captured tanks, a Huey helicopter, and rows of bombs.  In the courtyard pieces of shot-down planes have been welded together into a tower, topped by the tail assembly of a U.S. jet.

Kids are climbing all over them.  At the museum entrance sits an old MIG fighter the Vietnamese got from the Soviet Union.   Parents send their children up a small ladder bolted to the side, and there they pose for iPhone pictures, next to the 14 red stars painted on the fuselage, each representing a U.S. plane it shot down.

It was a moment for conflicting feelings. I was glad to see the instruments of war surrounded by happy families - no war anymore.  Then I thought about the pilot of the MIG.  How terrifying it must have been to fly up into the anti-aircraft and missile fire above Hanoi and shoot at the B-52s and their phalanx of fighter escorts.  And then I realized, it must have been terrifying for the U.S. pilots too.  Eighty four planes were shot down over Vietnam during the Christmas bombing, including 34 of the giant Stratofortresses, according to the museum. 

Today's remote controlled wars, with drones guided from computer screens in Colorado, seem antiseptic by comparison -- for the pilots.  Not so for those under the bombs.  For people living in the ancient cities of Sana'a or Kunduz, the reality today is much as it was for people in Hanoi that Christmas.

I believe people also had another reason for urging me to go to the museum.  Hanoi has long since been rebuilt.  In the city and its environs Vietnam is on a building binge, and the impact of the war is no longer so visible.  Children born during the Christmas bombing are celebrating their 43rd birthdays.

People walk through the Army Museum exhibit halls, mostly lined with photographs showing all the things they did during that war.  Some show Central Committee meetings that made the decision to fight the Americans.  Some show people in demonstrations, especially in the South, demanding that the foreigners leave.  Some show the hard work of people in the north, sending food and soldiers south to drive them out.  There are many portraits of people killed, or imprisoned in the infamous tiger cages, for fighting the U.S. and the South Vietnamese government it propped up until the last helicopter took off from the roof of the U.S. Embassy on May 1, 1975.

But despite the bombing and the meticulous documentation of the war's terrible cost, I felt little hostility or bitterness in the people I met.  In the end, they'd won.  How could the war's planners back in Washington have thought it would turn out otherwise?  The Vietnamese were no latecomers to insurrectionary organizing.  They were hardly ignorant or apolitical countryfolk, although this was certainly the prevalent stereotype in Congress and the Pentagon. 

The Army Museum is focused on the American war.  But the half dozen other museums in Hanoi that also document Vietnam's revolutionary history make plain how long liberation took.  Sophisticated political organizations took decades to mature and gain experience.  By the time of the U.S. intervention, they'd been at it for many, many years.  That experience finally brought about the U.S. defeat.

If anything, the Vietnamese official history on display in museums is even angrier with France than with the U.S.  Long rooms and galleries of photographs show the nationalists and their first resistance to the French colonizers starting in 1858.  It joined the rising revolutionary wave of the early 20th century, and crystallized in the launch of the Indochinese Communist Party in the 1930s. 

Hanoi's Hoa Lo monument (now largely overshadowed by a new office and residential complex) preserves the prison where the anti-French resisters were held.  In the cells of the old French Maison Centrale, dioramas of prisoners in manacles and leg irons shout at their jailers with their fists raised.  Two guillotines, used to chop the heads off those who couldn't escape, sit in dark corners of this and the official history museum.  Even the women's museum has a floor dedicated to those imprisoned by the French.

That history of resistance went on far longer than the U.S. war - almost a hundred years.  During much of it Ho Chi Minh was not even in Vietnam to lead it.  He was first an itinerant sailor, then in Moscow working for the Comintern, and finally was sent to one country after another, to jumpstart movements like those that had already begun in his own country.  While it's possible to see why western governments feared and demonized him as a hardened revolutionary, the Vietnamese resistance movements were not dependent on any single person.  The final defeat of the U.S., in fact, came several years after Ho had died.

The language used to demonize Vietnam's Communists and nationalists by those they sought to overthrow was just as vituperative as that used in the U.S. Congress against Muslim radicals today.  Terrorist, after all, was a term used to describe anarchists and socialists for over a century.  That language of terrorism and the cold war was used to create hysteria that easily justified sending U.S. advisors, and then troops, into Vietnam once the French had been defeated in 1954.  Ultimately, it was used to justify the B-52s and the 1972 Christmas bombing.  It cost millions of Vietnamese lives, and tens of thousands of U.S. lives as well.

When President Reagan and his successors sought to overcome the "Vietnam Syndrome" to make later interventions acceptable, they once again used that language.  It justifies even today's use of the B-52s, 63 years after they began flying.  The U.S. Air Force has no intention of retiring the 76 remaining planes in its fleet.  In fact, the successors to General Curtis ("Bomb them back to the stone age") LeMay now want to deploy them in Syria.

They are institutionally unwilling to remember.  Bombing did not defeat the Vietnamese.  Phuoc Luong is wrong.  More B-52s would not have won that war.  They will not win any new war against a people willing to do whatever it takes to survive and win. 

Walking through the streets of Hanoi, I could see see why.  One morning I went out to Long Bien Bridge to take photographs at sunrise.  The trains going north leave downtown Hanoi just as it gets light.  It's a great moment to see them emerge from the warren of houses next to the tracks, their old cars flashing past as they set out across the long span over the Red River. 

Long Bien is an old bridge, and was one of the four great bridges of the world when it was built in 1902.  A plaque at one end reminds the commuters who trundle past on bicycles and scooters that it was built by Gustav Eiffel, who used the same iron that went into his tower along the Seine in Paris.  During the American war it was probably the one structure U.S. bombers could clearly see from on high, and they blew it apart over and over.

Down below the bridge abutment is the Long Bien market, where many of the city's fruit and vegetable sellers go to meet farmers bringing produce into the city.  As I took pictures of the train and the stalls below, I tried to imagine the columns of smoke, the deafening roar of jet engines and then explosions, the screams of people torn to shreds with their dogs, their pushcarts and melons.

As the trains passed I wondered if the locomotives were the same as those that must have been repaired a thousand times during the war.  They look old.  Despite the glitz of Hanoi's new wave of foreign investment, Vietnam is still a poor country.  Things must be saved and reused again and again, including railroad cars and bridges.

I felt that persistence as the sun came up.  It's why the bombing, despite its immense destruction, failed so utterly. 

Kham Thien street after the December 1972 Christmas bombing, from the Hoa Lo Museum in Hanoi.

In the 38th Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards David Bacon won first-place in the photo series category for his August 6, 2014 cover story for the East Bay Express, "Living on the Streets of Oakland," a photo essay that examined the situation of homeless people in the Bay Area's third largest city.