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Florida SDS, anti-war activists protest SOA

By Jessica Schwartz

_Demands freedom for Colombian revolutionary Simon Trinidad _

Columbus, GA – Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and anti-war activists from college campuses in Tampa, Gainesville and Tallahassee, Florida traveled to Columbus to protest the School of the Americas (SOA) on Nov. 20.

Peace and justice activists have been protesting to close the SOA, also known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), for 20 years now. The SOA trains Latin America military death squads who murder leftists and union leaders, especially in Colombia. Protesters also joined together in front of the nearby Stewart Detention Center to demand “Not one more deportation!” of undocumented immigrants. Many undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are fleeing from countries where SOA-trained military death squads operate.

The Florida students and anti-war activists educated other SOA protesters about Simon Trinidad, a Colombian political prisoner in the U.S. They are demanding Trinidad be released in order to participate in the peace negotiations between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government. The activists promoted a Nov. 24 call-in day to the White House to free Simon Trinidad.

“I support Simon Trinidad because he is doing what any person should do: serve their people and their interests by ending a destructive civil war through peace negotiations. He doesn't deserve to be jailed, and the peace process should be supported,” said Homam Nasser, an organizer with the Committee to Stop FBI Repression–Tampa.

Elizabeth Kramer with Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) explained, “U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) funds research on torturing methods and drone technology, has a student population to recruit from, and a well-funded ROTC program, amongst many other things at the University of South Florida.”

Kramer continued, “We as students, in our opposition to American imperialism and campus militarization, support SOA Watch. We are here to protest U.S. military operations in Latin America and support freedom for Simon Trinidad.”

Tampa Bay SDS currently has a campaign to cut the contracts between University of South Florida and SOUTHCOM and Central Command (CENTCOM), which direct wars and death squads in Latin America and the Middle East.

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