Activist Spotlight: David Kane

David Kane

David Kane works for a Catholic advocacy organization called the Maryknoll Office on Global Concerns. He recently organized an "Interfaith Statement of Concern About 'Free Trade' and Human Trafficking." You can use the form below to send a thank you to David and urge him to keep up the good work!


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David Kane works for the Catholic advocacy organization Maryknoll Office on Global Concerns in Washington, DC. 

After reading the article in the New York Times this May about the human trafficking and slave labor conditions that have resulted from the 2001 U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement, David took action and organized an important Interfaith Statement of Concern about “Free Trade” and Human Trafficking, soliciting sign-on’s from other denominations and faith-based social justice organizations, and then distributing the statement to every member of the U.S. Congress.

Recognizing that the Bush administration was attempting to expand NAFTA-style trade rules – with even weaker labor standards than the Jordan agreement – to the Sultanate of Oman in the Middle East, as well as to the country of Peru in the Amazon region, the Interfaith statement calls on Congress to oppose both the Oman and Peru agreements, as well as “demand that any trade agreement include stronger labor enforcement measures.” Read the statement here (PDF).

David’s commitment to social justice and interest in trade was peaked when, in 1995, he joined the Maryknoll Lay Missioners and left Seattle for João Pessoa, Brazil, where he worked with recyclers in city dumps to create worker’s associations for better living and working conditions. These were people who worked long hours in the sun and smoke of the dumps for very little money, the same people who would bear the greatest suffering if Brazil were to sign the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) – the expansion of NAFTA to the entire Western Hemisphere.

Between January and September of 2002, David worked with the Jubilee Brazil campaign to educate the public about the FTAA and hold a people’s referendum on the deal. This all-out campaign included practically every social organization in Brazil and was a major success: over 10 million people voted, with 96 percent voting against the FTAA and urging the government to pull out of the negotiations. This work was part of the reason that Brazil joined Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay in blocking U.S. efforts to restart the moribund FTAA negotiations at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina last November.

Despite the progress in stopping the FTAA, the fight against bad trade deals is far from over, as the Bush administration is currently pushing bilateral free trade agreements in South America with Peru and Colombia.

Congress recently voted by a narrow margin to pass the misguided Oman Free Trade Agreement, but the activism of folks like David meant that the struggle in Congress was much tougher than the administration had expected.  The result is that the Republican leadership is wary of bringing up votes on the very controversial Peru and Colombia trade deals before the November elections.

We hope that you can join David and the many signers of the Interfaith Statement of Concern about “Free Trade” and Human Trafficking in their struggle for fairer trade policies and their opposition to this damaging Free Trade Agreement.

Find out how your Congressperson voted on the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, and then call their office to thank them or express concern.

“Every individual is an image of God walking on earth,” David says.

The Interfaith Statement of Concern about “Free Trade” and Human Trafficking stresses the desecration of human life and of God’s creations that would result from NAFTA-style free trade agreements.

But David is also concerned about the lack of transparency in these agreements and the violation of democratic policies that often results. He cited Peru, a country whose outgoing president recently pushed the trade agreement with the United States through a lame duck session of their Congress.

What about a possible alternative model for fair trade? David thinks the recent statement by the Bolivian government that sets limits for the negotiations of a proposed trade agreement between the European Union and the Community of Andean Nations is on the right track – that statement calls for human beings and nature, and not corporations, to be the principal beneficiaries of trade agreements.

 After you’ve contacted Congress to "thank or spank" them about the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, please take a moment to thank David for his leadership in the movement for fair trade and social justice. You can use the form below to send him a note.

March 21, 2019

Thank you, David!

We will add your signature from the information you provide.

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