Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Photographs by David Bacon
The Progressive / On The Line - 7/21/17

The old Boise Cascade plywood mill, closed in 2006.  The original mill complex on the Yakima River was started in 1903.

The face of work and poverty in Yakima ranges from a closed mill of the city's past to the agricultural fields of its present. 

At the edge of town is the rusting structure of the old Boise Cascade plywood plant, where many of this small city's people worked for over a hundred years.  Little houses in the surrounding neighborhood were originally built for mill workers. Now many are the homes of laborers in the valley's fields and packing sheds.  Yakima always was and still is a farm worker town.

The closure of the plant is one reason why those homes have seen better days. Rick, who lives in a tent camp set up by homeless people on the street downtown, says he'd like things to go back to the way they used to be. "There was work for everyone," he remembers. 

Not all memories of that work are so pleasant, though.  Manuel Ortiz, age 85, came to the US in the 1950s as a bracero. After a lifetime of labor in the fields, today he collects cans to pay his rent.  In Moxee, just a few miles away, Mario Magaña and Martin Gutierrez cut weeds between the rows of tall hop vines, whose fruit will soon be fermenting in the vats of one of the Washington State's many craft breweries.  Their workday is 10 hours of bending over double, swinging a machete.

Long work days, or days of no work at all, were on the minds of hundreds of workers on May Day in this central Washington city. Farm workers marched with activists from the indigenous nation for whom the city is named.  One group of workers, carrying the red flags of the United Farm Workers, came from the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery.  A few growers and packing shed owners closed for the day, but most workers just took the day off on their own, risking their jobs.

Their growing movement, visible in the streets, is challenging Yakima's old power relations. New city councilmembers - Latinos have won three of seven seats - spoke to the marchers and condemned immigration raids.  As they spoke, detainees in the Tacoma immigrant detention center, just two hours away, organized a hunger strike to protest deportations. 

Others recalled the immigrants executed in Chicago in 1886, when the global movement for May Day was born in the fight for the eight-hour day. Yet in Yakima Valley hop fields the work day is still 10 hours, a hundred years later.

"We need an 8-hour day, but 8-hours with a wage we can live on, and a union," one speaker urged.  "We don't believe in a world of violence and war and prison and unemployment and low wages and deportations.  We can build a better one!  Like the Zapatistas say, 'Un Otro Mundo es Posible!'"

A home in a poor neighborhood of Mexican workers in Yakima.

Rick lives in a tent camp set up by homeless people on the street in downtown Yakima.

Manuel Ortiz has lived in Yakima for 30 years.  He collects cans for recycling to get money to buy food.

Mario Magaña chops weeds growing in the rows between hops vines, before the hops are harvested for making beer.

 Celina Arcos thins fruit on apple trees.

 May Day marchers in Yakima.

Members of the United Farm Workers at Chateau Ste. Michele Winery took off work to come to the May Day march.

 A young indigenous Yakima woman leads the May Day march.

 A rail line leaves Yakima through the gate of the old Boise Cascade plywood mill.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


by David Bacon
Capital & Main, 7/25/17

Cutting the ribbon at the farmworker exhibition (left to right): Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez, State Sen. Ben Hueso, Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty and Freddie Rodriguez, Cesar Chavez Foundation President Paul F. Chavez, Assemblymember Anna Caballero, State Fair CEO Rick Pickering (partially obscured), Sacramento City Councilmember Eric Guera, State Sen. Ed Hernandez (partially obscured), State Treasurer John Chiang and Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna.

For over 160 years the California State Fair/Cal Expo has been run by growers to showcase the wonders and wealth of the state's agriculture. And for over 160 years the fair did this without mentioning the people whose labor makes agriculture possible: farmworkers.

This year that changed. Rick Pickering, chief executive officer of the California Exposition & State Fair, and Tom Martinez, the fair's chief deputy general manager, asked the United Farm Workers to help put together an exhibit to remedy this historical omission. As a result, for the first time the fair, which runs through July 30, has an exhibition that not only pays tribute to field laborers, but also acknowledges the long history of their struggle to organize unions.

Growers are not happy, and fair organizers got some pushback. But at the ceremony inaugurating the exhibition, State Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), the head of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, explained why they no longer have veto power. "We wouldn't be here without the work of farmworkers," he said. "The legislature now includes members who worked in the fields themselves, or have family who did, who know what it's like to work in 100 degree heat, to suffer the hardest conditions and work the longest hours. We want our families to work in better conditions and earn more money."

Some of the farmworkers who came as guests of the fair were veterans of that long struggle. Efren Fraide worked at one of the state's largest vegetable growers, D'Arrigo Brothers Produce, when the original union election was held in 1975. However, it was only after the legislature passed the mandatory mediation law, forcing growers to sign contracts once workers voted for a union, that the first union agreement went into force at the company in 2007, covering 1,500 people.

D'Arrigo workers maintained their union committee through all the years between 1975 and 2007, organizing strikes and work stoppages to raise conditions and wages. "I'm very proud to see that we're included here," Fraide said, gesturing toward the photographs on the walls in the cavernous exhibition hall. "It shows who we are and what we went through. Si se puede!"

As the workers were introduced by UFW President Arturo Rodriguez, they stood up from their seats to applause. Rodriguez noted that some farmworkers, like those working at Monterey Mushrooms' sheds near Morgan Hill and Watsonville, now make a living wage of between $38,000 and $42,000 in year-round jobs with benefits. "This exhibition recognizes that farm labor is important work, and that it can be a decent job if it includes labor and environmental standards. It can come with job security, and can be professional work," he emphasized.

"What's been lacking is an acknowledgment of the people who do the work," charged Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, son of the capital city's late mayor, Joe Serna, and nephew of former UFW organizer Ruben Serna. "This exhibition documents their political activism. We wouldn't be here if it were not for the farmworkers movement."

Sunday, July 9, 2017


Book Review By Paul Von Blum
Truthdig, Posted on Jun 30, 2017

"In the Fields of the North/ En los Campos del Norte"
A book by David Bacon

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. . . They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

-Donald Trump, June 16, 2015

We live in a despicable era of racism and xenophobia, fueled by the anti-immigrant fervor of the Trump regime and abetted by right-wing media forces. Mexican immigrants have borne the brunt of much of this public animus, including countless verbal assaults and some egregious examples of physical violence. Few perpetrators of this hostility recognize the long historical origins of their nativist outpourings. Even fewer realize the deep humanity and the powerful suffering of the Latino farmworkers who have come north to the United States to escape grinding poverty and hunger and try to eke out marginal livings for themselves and their families.

A new bilingual book by David Bacon offers both a dramatic antidote to the deplorable reality of racism and a majestic life-affirming view of these hidden women, men and children. "In the Fields of the North" is a landmark fusion of journalism and documentary photography. Bacon is an accomplished writer and photographer, with a long record of union organizing for the United Farm Workers, the United Electrical Workers, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and others. He has effectively documented the impact of globalization, the degrading conditions of workplaces for many immigrants, the human consequences of migration, the political struggles for workers' and human rights, and many related topics in his books and commentary.

But above all, Bacon is a documentary photographer of extraordinary power, insight and skill. In his introductory comments to the book, he is modest-too modest-about contributing to the long history of socially conscious photography: "I hope my work contributes to this tradition today." I have had the privilege and pleasure of teaching and writing for many years about some of the giant American figures of this tradition, including Jacob Riis, Lewis Hine, Ben Shahn, Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke-White, Roy DeCarava and Gordon Parks.

I have followed Bacon's work for decades and it is entirely reasonable to view him as the legitimate heir of these iconic photographic artists. Like these men and women, Bacon professes his deep commitment to the people whose images he celebrates with his camera. He refuses to stand apart from the human beings he photographs and repudiates the absurd notion, which is still popular in some academic and critical circles, that photographers must be objective and neutral. He takes his stand strongly and without ambiguity: "We are not objective but partisan."

Like his distinguished predecessors and contemporaries, Bacon understands that his photographs of immigrant workers, predominantly from Mexico, are part of a broader movement for social change. Like the entire tradition of socially committed art, his works are not merely a decorative adjunct to political protest, but are fully integral to the continuing struggle for justice and dignified lives for immigrant workers in the agricultural fields of the United States. No detached observer, Bacon stands proudly on the side of the people in his book.

In words and images, he narrates the lives, travails and occasional triumphs of mostly undocumented people who have migrated north, often under extremely perilous conditions. He encourages his readers to enter their homes, which too often consist of temporary shelters in desolate regions, of plywood shacks and tents made of tarps, in trailer camps, in vans and cars, or worst of all, nothing but an open space in an agricultural field. Bacon photographs entire families living without basic services. Many must bathe in rivers while others drink polluted water, causing gastrointestinal illnesses and probable long-term serious health consequences. 

Many of these families come from indigenous cultures and speak only their native languages. This further isolates them, not only from other indigenous refugees from Mexico but also from the majority Spanish-speaking refugees from Mexico and Central America. These human beings exist in a dreadful cycle of poverty, moving seasonally throughout California, Oregon and Washington, working the fields for subminimal wages while experiencing horrific racism and exploitation from growers, labor contractors and field foremen.

Readers and viewers of "In the Fields of the North" find its heart in the deeply moving stories and images of the people whom Bacon chronicles so effectively. He allows these disenfranchised workers the rare opportunity to tell their stories about their lives under a system of American feudalism. All the narratives in the volume are powerful and each reader inevitably finds some specific ones especially compelling.

The story, for example, of Rómulo Muñoz Vásquez reveals the harrowing lives of many Mexican migrant farmworkers who lack U.S. documentation. Originally a farmer and later a police officer in Oaxaca, he was unable to support his family. He crossed the border and first rented an apartment in San Diego, but couldn't afford the rent, food and transportation, and still send money back to his family.

Vásquez found a spot under a tree and used nylon tarp to build himself a shelter. He purchased water for a dollar a gallon and he bathed in a stream on the other side of the hill where he "lived." The water was dirty and other residents of this makeshift colony sometimes got sick and sometimes they worked so late that they were unable to bathe at all. He reveals that from his personal experience, many other Mexican migrants died trying to enter the United States, their bodies devoured by coyotes, birds and bears; others were caught by the border patrol, locked up for a few days, and deported to Tijuana.

Bacon relates that shortly after Vásquez told his story, the fascistic anti-immigrant group the Minutemen appeared and threatened the hillside dwellers. Subsequently, county deputy sheriffs removed everyone there, forcing them to find new shelter. This too is a feature of the lives of people living in the shadows as they struggle to support themselves and their families back home.

Lucretia Camacho's story adds another poignant dimension to the book. Bacon titles her narrative with an especially apt phrase: Making a Life, but not a Living. An older woman, Camacho was born in a small indigenous town in Oaxaca, which had a language and culture hundreds of years before the arrival of the Spaniards. She began working when she was 9 years old, picking cotton and other crops in northern Mexico. She began working in the fields of Oxnard, California, in 1985 and continued until very recently. A single mother, she earned paltry wages doing piecework picking strawberries in Oxnard and peppers and tomatoes in Gilroy, California. She became a legal resident in 1989 under the amnesty program.

Her comments about her work speak volumes about the life of America's migrant farmworkers: "The strawberry harvest looks easy enough, but once you try it, it's hard. I don't wish that kind of work on my worst enemy." After a lifetime of backbreaking labor, Camacho suffers from arthritis, osteoporosis and swollen feet-human realities about migrant farmworkers that few privileged Americans, even in California, comprehend when they buy their fruits and vegetables in area supermarkets and elsewhere. Perhaps she is one of Trump's "good people" because of her protracted suffering.

Bacon's more than 300 images in the book are a stunning addition to the body of contemporary socially conscious documentary photography. Many are haunting while others are hopeful, but all represent the fusion of excellent technique and incisive social and political commentary. All reveal the multiple experiences of the marginalized workers who labor anonymously in the agricultural fields of the North.

One of them, memorialized in a striking photograph, is Isabel Pulado, a Mexican immigrant who picks grapes, dates, peppers and other crops in the Coachella Valley. Thirty-two years old and a single mother of three children, her face shows the strains of a hard life that will likely be unchanging. Bacon captures her pain, her resilience and perhaps even her defiance. She epitomizes the antithesis of Trump's repulsive comments during his campaign.

Likewise, Bacon's photograph of Justino Macías repudiates the president's racist remarks, attitudes and policies. A migrant from Mexicali, he lives in a van with a friend, parked next to a highway and an irrigation ditch. A few weeks before Bacon took the photograph, Macías was beaten and robbed, an all too common experience for agricultural migrants, who cannot easily use banks. His facial expression reveals his anguish that far transcends the specific violent act he endured.

Photographs from "In the Fields of the North" also feature people of other national and ethnic groups, including Punjabis, Hondurans and Nicaraguans. And in one dramatic image, Bacon depicts a pregnant African-American woman in Stockton, California, standing in her large apartment complex full of mostly black residents. The complex is grotesque; it is infested with cockroaches and bedbugs, broken fixtures and trash. California Rural Legal Assistance provided help in bringing action against the landlord. This photograph is powerfully reminiscent of the socially critical works of Parks and many other masters who documented the grinding poverty that African-Americans have faced throughout the centuries.

Lest prospective readers and viewers think that this book is little more than gloom and doom about worker exploitation and misery, hopeful signs are apparent as well. Bacon adds many strong photographic images that reveal these workers' commitment to organizing, protesting and rebelling. Their defiance in the face of brutal work and living conditions is a major feature of the book, especially in some of the photographs showing these women and men in poses of impressive solidarity.

Several images stand out; all are superb compositionally, but they are especially valuable for their stirring political content. One photograph shows farmworkers from the Gallo wine ranch in Sonoma County, California, holding hands and singing to protest the company's failure to sign a union contract. These activities are part of the United Farm Workers culture and are reminiscent of the classic era of civil rights activism of the 1960s and 1970s. Bacon captured the workers' facial expressions revealing their energy, resilience and collective strength.

In another photograph, he depicts migrant farmworkers on strike against a large berry grower in Washington state. They are blocking the entrance to the labor camp where they live and carry signs in English and Spanish demanding respect and reinforcing their unity. This is a classic labor image and joins a long tradition of photography and other artistic forms that highlight and support collective worker militancy.

In the same Washington state action, Bacon also photographed several women and children from the labor camp on strike. They are indigenous Mixtec and Triqui migrants from Oaxaca and southern Mexico and reveal different emotions in the image. Some look tired and exhausted and others look hopeful. He captures the range of emotions that inevitably exist in all struggles for workers' rights and social justice.

The new wave of labor activism shown in this dramatic volume is encouraging, especially in the Trump era of increasing repression against Latinos. As recently as June 13, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Thomas Homan, told a House committee that his agency would follow up on Trump's campaign promise to drive out more undocumented immigrants. His words were chilling: "You should look over your shoulder, and you need to be worried."

We need more courageous, socially conscious writers and photographers like Bacon. We need more determined farmworkers who stand up against oppression like those he documented in this book. Above all, we need people to resist the horrific policies of the most dangerous and reactionary government in U.S. history.


David Bacon: "Los fotógrafos tomamos partido"
Entrevista por Melina Balcázar Moreno
20/05/2017 06:03 AM Laberinto

El libro En los campos del norte documenta la ruda cotidianidad de los migrantes a través de un discurso textual y visual. La siguiente conversación gira en torno de la foto como objeto estético.

Thermal, California. Campo agrícola Chicanitas. Una niña montada en su bicicleta. El polvo que abunda en el sitio provoca asma en muchos de los niños. (Foto: David Bacon)


En su más reciente libro, En los campos del norte (In the Fields of the North / En los campos del norte, University of California Press/ Colegio de la Frontera Norte, California/ México, 2017), el fotógrafo estadunidense David Bacon (Nueva York, 1948) da cuenta de la compleja realidad social de los trabajadores migrantes en Estados Unidos. Su atención no se concentra únicamente en las dificultades que enfrentan o en la precariedad de sus condiciones de vida, sino que pone énfasis también en sus acciones de resistencia, en su lucha por una vida digna. Durante más de tres décadas, ha seguido paso a paso -tanto gráficamente como a través de testimonios- la vida de quienes han logrado llegar al norte, motivado "por la fuerte convicción del poder de la imagen y de las palabras para impulsar transformaciones".[1] La obra de David Bacon se distingue por su persistencia y determinación por estar presente en los momentos definitorios en la vida de los trabajadores.

Al igual que en sus libros anteriores, como El derecho a quedarse en casa (2015), este libro combina fotografías con entrevistas e historias personales. ¿Por qué esta necesidad de reunir la imagen y el testimonio?

Es una cuestión un tanto polémica. Por lo menos en Estados Unidos, es muy común encontrar en las escuelas de periodismo la ideología de que una imagen tiene que ser completamente autónoma, constituirse en un icono. Todo tiene que ser autorreferencial como si no hubiera necesidad de palabras y la imagen debiera sostenerse por sí misma. A mi parecer, eso forma parte de la despolitización de la fotografía, que consiste en separar del contexto en el que se encuentra tanto el sujeto como el fotógrafo, cuyas intenciones tratan de borrarse de esta forma. Como lo hemos visto en la historia de la fotografía, la misma imagen puede significar diferentes cosas según el contexto. Por ello, creo que es importante establecer el contexto político y, en mi práctica como fotógrafo de la izquierda, mi trabajo conlleva intenciones sociales, por lo que es importante establecer el contexto de las imágenes. Esto lo hago mediante varios medios. Uno de ellos es dar importancia a las palabras que contiene la fotografía. Por ejemplo, en la última foto del libro, se ve a unos niños que están haciendo su propia manifestación, y las palabras que aparecen ahí, "Justicia para todos", son entonces muy importantes, porque son algo que ellos mismos producen, es su propia manera de entender la huelga en la que sus padres están involucrados. El contexto de la foto lo establece además el título que explica en dónde están y lo que ocurría en su entorno en aquel momento.

Así, palabras e imágenes trabajan juntas para crear un documento de la vida de esos trabajadores. Juntas adquieren un poder que ninguna de ellas posee por sí misma. En mi práctica, han influido autores como Studs Terkel, que en su programa de radio en Chicago otorgó un lugar privilegiado a la gente anónima, en sus famosas historias orales. He intentado aprender de él, de su estilo. De ahí que al momento de transcribir las entrevistas que realizo con la gente que fotografío elimine las preguntas, a fin de darle la forma de un testimonio, de restituir su fuerza como historia.

Hay muchos fotógrafos que me inspiran, en particular de la década de 1930, como Otto Hegel y Hansel Mieth, que participaron con sus cámaras en la gran huelga de algodón de 1933 y la huelga de los muelles de la Costa Oeste en 1934, o Matt Herron. Y desde luego fotógrafos como Tina Modotti y Nacho López.

Tengo dos frases favoritas de fotógrafos. La primera es de Alexander Rodchenko: "Debemos tomar fotografías desde todos los ángulos, excepto desde el centro". En la década de 1920, él y sus compañeros fotógrafos en Moscú fueron pioneros en utilizar ángulos extremos, la composición en diagonal y los primeros planos como un medio para sacudir la perspectiva del espectador y liberarlo de la complacencia. Hoy damos por sentadas estas técnicas, pero poco sabemos sobre su origen y propósito original. La otra frase es de Nacho López: "la fotografía no fue pensada como arte para adornar las paredes, sino para hacer evidente la crueldad ancestral del hombre contra el hombre".

¿Vería su trabajo como algo artístico o se concentra más bien en su carácter documental? Pienso en las fotos que dedica a los niños, en particular una en la que se observa a una niña en bicicleta, rodeada de una nube de polvo.

No hay una respuesta sencilla a esta pregunta. Como fotógrafo, tengo un respeto por esa tradición, por ese modo de comunicación, que es también una forma de arte, pues los fotógrafos son artistas, crean imágenes, lo cual implica responsabilidad. Por un lado, busco que las imágenes sean bellas, no soy un fotógrafo que solo se concentra en sus propósitos políticos y descuida la imagen. No hay una contradicción entre propósitos sociales, políticos, y propósitos estéticos. De hecho, la tensión, la relación entre ellos es lo que resulta más emocionante.

Actualmente, lo que fue un vínculo evidente se percibe a menudo como un peligroso conflicto de intereses. El canon dicta que los fotógrafos deben ser objetivos y neutrales y deben mantenerse alejados de la realidad que documentan. Sin embargo, creo que nuestro trabajo adquiere poder visual y emocional de su cercanía con los movimientos sociales que documentamos. No somos objetivos, sino que tomamos partido: documentar la realidad social es parte del movimiento por el cambio social.

Como fotógrafo, entiendo el contexto que estoy capturando. Por ejemplo, en la foto de la niña hay algo de ambos aspectos. Estuve en el campamento agrícola Chicanitas en Thermal, California, porque me interesa ese sitio que concentra muchos trabajadores de los campos. Hay alrededor de 400 remolques. La mayoría vienen de Michoacán, son purépechas. Como conozco bien la zona, el desierto en que se encuentra -ya había estado ahí antes en otras ocasiones por mi actividad como sindicalista-, sé que el lugar puede ser bello pero al mismo tiempo muy problemático para la gente que vive ahí, en especial para los niños que sufren graves problemas respiratorios debido al polvo que aparece en la imagen. Sin embargo, la niña que vemos trata de disfrutar de la vida como lo hace cualquier otro niño y se divierte con su bicicleta. Esta foto combina aspectos positivos y negativos pues su vida es así. No quiero presentar a la gente como víctima, en primer lugar porque no se ve de esa forma. Trato de mostrar la complejidad de su situación, por lo que es necesario recurrir a una leyenda que contextualice y permita profundizar el entendimiento de la foto.

Me parece que en el libro se esbozan dos líneas de reflexión que pueden ilustrar los títulos de los capítulos "Ganando la vida sin vivirla" y "Las cosas pueden cambiar". ¿Cómo se manifiesta su compromiso como fotógrafo? ¿Lo conduce a tomar decisiones técnicas específicas?

Cuando tomo fotos, conservo en mente a Rodchenko y su manera de rechazar la identificación y forzar al espectador a pensar, como lo creía también Brecht. Utilizo los ángulos oblicuos por razones políticas, pero también por el dinamismo que aportan. Cuando se utilizan con una persona en el campo, en los surcos, se muestra su condición de trabajador; es una manera de hacer ver que el trabajador es más importante que el producto. De ahí que tome las fotos de muy cerca y que utilice un lente de ángulo amplio que me permite agrandar a la persona y además incluir el lugar donde se encuentra. Como se trata de un trabajo manual, es importante mostrar las manos, lo que la persona hace con ellas, lo que les ocurre al trabajar. Trato de incluir la información ligada a sus condiciones de trabajo, cómo están vestidos para protegerse, la dificultad, por ejemplo, de trabajar ocho horas continuas agachado. No es fácil tomar esas fotos, porque uno tiene que lograr acceder al campo, conseguir el permiso del capataz -si no lo hago me echan fuera-, pero también de la misma gente. Tengo que mostrarles que, con mi cámara, no soy alguien peligroso.

No olvido que mi propósito es social y que soy solo uno de los innumerables fotógrafos que han tenido este objetivo. Por mi experiencia como organizador sindical, me interesa promover los movimientos sociales de la gente marginada. En otro momento de mi vida lo hice apoyando a la gente a formar sus sindicatos, ahora lo hago utilizando otras herramientas, pero el propósito sigue siendo el mismo: la justicia social.

¿A quién se dirige En los campos del norte?

El libro está en inglés y en español, ya que se dirige a la gente en ambos lados de la frontera. Es el resultado de una coedición, es nuestra respuesta a Donald Trump, nuestra manera de decirle que si él construye muros, nosotros vamos a saltarlos por medio de los libros y de la cooperación. El hecho de que sea bilingüe también se debe a que la gente en el libro lo es. Aunque la mayoría habla español y se encuentra confrontada con el inglés, practica cotidianamente otras lenguas, como el mixteco (de hecho me gustaría poder ofrecer sus testimonios en sus lenguas, es un proyecto que tenemos y esperamos poder realizar en el futuro). Hemos intentado mostrar nuestro respeto por la cultura de la gente que aparece en el libro, representando los diferentes aspectos de sus vidas.

El libro se dirige, desde luego, al público en general, para mostrar una realidad que no es muy visible para la mayoría de la gente, ni en Estados Unidos ni en México. Las fotos aunadas a los testimonios permiten entender mejor la situación de estos trabajadores que dan de comer a todo un país. Es fundamental hacer que el consumidor entienda lo que está detrás de las frutas y verduras que lleva a su mesa. Al mismo tiempo, el libro se dirige a la misma gente que participó en él, que es, de hecho, el producto de una cooperación con ellos, pues la fotografía es un proyecto cooperativo. Es una manera de devolver a la comunidad las imágenes y palabras que nos ha brindado para que a su vez pueda emplearlas en sus luchas y continúe avanzando.

Podría decir que está dirigido también a los estudiantes. Creo que puede contribuir a convencer a los jóvenes para que tomen parte en la lucha social, ya sea como organizadores, fotógrafos o escritores. He constatado que cuando ven que lo que viven se toma en serio, ellos mismos tienen ganas de hacer algo con sus vidas.

Finalmente, podría decir que se dirige a los fotógrafos. De cierta manera es un libro polémico, porque la verdad es que la fotografía ligada a los movimientos sociales no es muy popular en Estados Unidos. Los grandes museos como el Whitney, el MoMA de New York o de San Francisco no se interesan por este tipo de foto; están todavía muy embelesados con el posmodernismo y no quieren nada que tenga que ver con lo social. Trato de aportar mi voz a ese debate y recalcar que la foto tiene un objetivo, un efecto real, y que no es justo hacer de lado la fotografía social documentalista y marginada al afirmar mediante políticas culturales que lo único que vale la pena ver es todo aquello que no está ligado a los movimientos sociales. No hay que olvidar que las tradiciones de fotografía social en Estados Unidos y México han estado muy ligadas. Aunque sean claramente diferentes, siempre ha existido un intercambio de experiencias, desde los años 1920, en el que busco inscribirme. Hay que fomentar, explorar y popularizar todo lo que compartimos porque eso nos hace más fuertes.

¿Cree que su trabajo se verá afectado con la presidencia Trump?

He sido también activista en el movimiento pro-inmigrante desde hace casi 40 años. Nos estamos preparando ahora para una nueva ola de represión debido a las medidas de Trump, que traerán consigo más redadas, arrestos, deportaciones. No es que no hayamos confrontado este problema durante la administración Obama, que multiplicó los centros de detención. Hubo 12 millones y medio de deportaciones en los últimos ocho años, pero ahora es claro que el problema se agudizará. Estamos organizando a la comunidad, intentando proteger a los trabajadores indocumentados para respaldarlos y defenderlos y veo que lo mismo ocurre en todo el país, lo que me da esperanza y ánimo.

Creo que el trabajo de documentación social es hoy más importante que nunca, ya que vamos a enfrentar una ola de propaganda que proclamará que lo único que importa es el dinero, ser rico. Necesitamos rechazar esa mitología y mostrar la realidad del país. La documentación fotográfica es también una herramienta para conseguir justicia social y vamos a necesitarla aún más porque la situación de los trabajadores se agravará.

[1] Ana Luisa Anza (Claroscuro), en su prefacio al libro, "Nos permite estar presentes de primera mano".