Angela Denio

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Angela Denio


September 2010 the new school year has started at many campuses and members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) are preparing for this year’s important SDS National Convention. Set for Oct. 22-24 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the convention will be the first since the historic March 4 Protests for Education Rights that took place in 36 states around the country. SDS is building the movement opposing cuts to public education and hopes their fall convention draws more new students to attend and coordinate plans for the school year.

Returning students are likely to revive or form new SDS chapters and SDS leaders hope that many will attend the SDS National Convention in Milwaukee, where 16 students were arrested last spring during an education rights protest on March 4. The militant Milwaukee protest led to the announced resignation of the chancellor and slowed some cutbacks and a privatization plan.

University of Minnesota student Grace Kelley said, "At last year's SDS convention, I was inspired by the reports from other chapters about their successful actions in the national movement for education rights. I am looking forward to comparing notes on actions and tactics with SDSers and other students this October."

In Milwaukee, preparations are being made to provide free food and housing for all SDSers and participants. Looking forward to the convention, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee student Michael Raspanti said, "It’s one thing to participate in conference calls for a national student organization. I feel it could be so much more empowering though to actually meet fellow SDSers, face to face, who I work with to build the student movement on a national level."

Towards the end of the semester, from Nov. 19-22, SDS is mobilizing for the protest to “Close the School of the Americas” at Fort Benning, Georgia, where the U.S. military trains Colombian military death squads. Angela Denio of UNC Asheville SDS says, “The new SDS started mainly as an anti-war group and we think joining the 20,000 activists in exposing and shutting down the U.S. military’s death squad school is a priority.” [1]

2009 Colombia delegation

Angela Denio was part of an August 2009, a delegation of U.S. students, trade unionists and anti-war activists who traveled to Colombia to meet with leaders in the struggle there. The Colombia Action Network and the Campaign for Labor Rights, two grassroots organizations here in the United States fighting against U.S. intervention in Colombia, hosted the trip.

“I knew what I heard in the U.S. media about the benefits of U.S. tax money and aid to Colombia was true only for the rich. I wanted to see for myself what the reality is for Colombians,” said Jeremy Miller, a member of the Colombian Action Network when explaining his decision to go on the delegation. Members of the Colombia Action Network and the Campaign for Labor Rights arranged meetings with peasant, indigenous and student groups, as well as with political leaders, unions, political prisoners and families of Colombians killed or imprisoned by the government.

The first union the delegation met with was the National Peasant-Farmer Federation, FENSUAGRO. They unite farmers from all over Colombia to struggle for land reform and everyday rights for rural workers. It is the largest rural labor organization in Colombia and is unwavering in its principled defense of workers. Because of the work they do, this union is the most targeted for violence by the wealthy and their pro-government death squads.

During a rural community meeting, a FENSUAGRO leader told the delegation, “75 of our members are currently in jail. We fight for a public policy that favors the peasant farmer and we are always clear about our demands. Because of this the government works daily, looking for ways to finish us off. The government tries to connect us to the FARC [the largest armed rebel group in Colombia], in attempts to discredit us. The Uribe government goes after anyone who defends the working class. They claim that we are not the victims of violence, that we are the aggressors. Farmers have no support from the government. No rights even to housing or health care. The government does not care for the poor and has completely abandoned us to poverty. Human life is worth only the value of a bullet.”[2]


  1. [1]
  2. [FightBack! Eyewitness report from solidarity delegation Report by Angela Denio | September 8, 2009]