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David Bacon: This is What Free Trade Looks Like

David Bacon, a longtime photo journalist and author of The Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the US / Mexico Border, spoke briefly on June 6 at New College in SF. (8:48 minutes / 2 megabytes)

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David Bacon, a longtime photo journalist and author of The Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the US / Mexico Border, spoke briefly on June 6 at New College in SF. David spoke after the screening of This is What Free Trade Looks Like, a yet to be released documentary on the NAFTA fraud in México, the failure of the WTO, and the case for global revolt.

The film (made by activist media project.los angeles) is one of the first activist films to carefully explain how free trade operates. It does so from the perspective of the Mexican experience with ten years of NAFTA. Activists and scholars authoritatively condemn free trade as a solution to poverty and discuss the impacts on farmers, workers, youth, and immigrants.

Shot in Cancún, México on the occasion of the 5th WTO ministerial in September 2003, it contextualizes the growing international resistance to free trade policies. All the music in the film is from the streets of Cancún.

The video should be available August 1.

For more information, contact: amp_cancun (at) and visit:

David and his photography are both big inspirations to me. He has been creating Radical Media long before the Independent Media Center launched in Seattle in November 1999.

To view David Bacon's excellent photography, visit:

For information on The Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the US / Mexico Border (UC Press 2004), visit:

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Food, televisions, computer equipment, plumbing supplies, clothing. Much of the material foundation of our everyday lives is produced along the U.S./Mexico border in a world largely hidden from our view. Based on gripping firsthand accounts, this book investigates the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement on those who labor in the agricultural fields and maquiladora factories on the border. Journalist David Bacon paints a powerful portrait of poverty, repression, and struggle, offering a devastating critique of NAFTA in the most pointed and in-depth examination of border workers published to date.

Unlike journalists who have made brief excursions into strawberry fields and maquiladoras, Bacon has more than a decade's experience reporting on the ground at the border, and he has developed sustained relationships with scores of workers and organizers who have entrusted him with their stories. He describes harsh conditions of child labor in the Mexicali Valley, the deplorable housing outside factories in cities such as Tijuana, and corporate retaliation faced by union organizers. He finds that, despite the promises of its backers, NAFTA has locked in a harsh neoliberal economic policy that has swept away laws and protections that Mexican workers had established over decades. More than a showcase for NAFTA's victims, this book traces the emergence of a new social consciousness, telling how workers in Mexico, the United States, and Canada are now beginning to join together in a powerful new strategy of cross-border organizing as they search for economic and social justice.

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Table of Contents:


1. Grapes and Green Onions
2. Putting Solidarity on the Table
3. Tijuana's Maquiladora Workers
4. Han Young
5. Build a House, Go to Jail
6. The Strategic Alliance
7. Duro Means Hard
8. Mexico's Wars over Privatization
9. Transplanted Expectations
10. The World of the Border Has Changed

Epilogue: The Confrontation to Come

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David Bacon is a journalist and photographer. He is an associate editor at Pacific News Service and a regular contributor to The Nation, The Progressive, Z, The American Prospect, and the L.A. Weekly. His photographs documenting the lives of the workers discussed in the book were recently exhibited at the Oakland Museum of California as well as in Germany and Great Britain.

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