News from Lori's Parents
1 May 1997In this update:
US Consul Visits Lori
Lori was visited by the US Consul General in Perú on April 17th (five days prior to the storming of the Japanese Ambassador's residence). He reported that she looked thin and that the condition of her hands had worsened considerably, but she was still maintaining her good spirits under very difficult circumstances.
After much prodding, the Embassy officials visited her twice during the 126 day crisis -- a time when the International Red Cross, Catholic Church, lawyers, and family were not permitted visits. In Lori's words, at her February 25th visit, "the prison had become hell."
As of today, visits are still not permitted.
Rhoda's Essay in Vogue
The May issue of Vogue magazine has "A Mother's Story," a long article about Lori (along with a full page photo) which starts on page 310. The text of this article will soon be available on Lori's Web Page.
The Berensons will appear on "Edgewise" with John Hockenberry on MSNBC, in the New York area on Saturday and Sunday evenings at 8pm and at 11pm.
A Call to Action
As you know, we have, at great personal sacrifice and anguish, refrained from pushing for action on Lori's behalf during the entire Peruvian hostage crisis because of the crisis' overriding importance in human terms. Now it is absolutely essential that maximum pressure be put on our government to pressure the government of Perú to either afford Lori a fair, open trial in a civilian court or to release her.
Please write to Secretary of State Albright (sample letter follows) and also to your Congressional Representatives and Senators urging them to either write to President Fujimori themselves or to add their signatures to the House and Senate letters that should be circulating in the near future.
Madeleine K. Albright
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Albright:
Lori Berenson, an American citizen, has been incarcerated for a year and a half in a harsh Peruvian prison where the temperature indoors rarely reaches 40°F. There is no heat and no running water. Food is insufficient. She is allowed out of her cell only one half hour each day for exercise and the high altitude has caused digestive and circulatory problems. Although she has continually proclaimed her innocence, she was sentenced to life in prison without parole by a secret military tribunal which gave her no written notice of the charges against her or meaningful access to counsel. There was no opportunity to refute alleged evidence or to present evidence on her own behalf. There was no opportunity to cross examine witnesses.
Because of your record of strong support for human rights, I urge you to press the government of Perú to afford Lori a fair, open trial in a civilian court where she can demonstrate her innocence. The combination of lack of due process, the failure of the Peruvian prison system to satisfy even the minimum internationally accepted standards, and Lori's deteriorating health make this a matter of immediate importance.
Mail to Lori
During the hostage crisis mail to Lori was very slow and sporadic -- as of April 17th she was still being given Christmas cards and mail from early January. We expect the mail to improve once we physically bring it with us to the prison. To expedite mail to Lori, please send letters, notes, cards (in Spanish) to
50 Lexington Avenue, Box 200
NYC, NY 10010
Thank you for your continued interest and help.- Rhoda and Mark Berenson