News from Lori's Parents
28 October 1998In this update:
- Visit to Lori in Socabaya Prison
- Call to Action
Visit to Lori in Socabaya Prison
We have just returned from a troubling trip, our first visit to Lori in this new prison location in which she was incarcerated on Wednesday afternoon, October 7th. Lori had been transported by helicopter, handcuffed and hooded (blindfolded), from Yanamayo Prison in Puno to Socabaya Prison in Arequipa --- Perú's second largest city. We wish to report the following:
Lori Emphatically Denies Asking to Return to Yanamayo
Although there have been rumors to the contrary reported in the press, Lori emphatically stated: "I have not asked and I have no intention of asking to return to Yanamayo Prison."
In Socabaya Prison we got a better view of the condition of Lori's hands and fingers -- they are swollen, chapped, cut, and a deep purple color. Her finger nails are bright white. This is symptomatic of circulatory problems.
Medical examinations on throat, stomach, liver, eyes, skin, and circulation are still in process. To date there have been "confirmed" Peruvian reports that Lori does suffer from circulation problems, arthritis, bronchial and throat problems, and chronic gastritis.
New Prison Conditions
Lori spends 23 hours each day in a dimly lit concrete cell without heat or running water and is permitted one hour of yard time. There is no hot water. Buckets of cold water are provided for drinking, washing herself, her clothes, her facility, and the hole in the floor which serves as her toilet -- just as in Yanamayo Prison.
Although Socabaya is in a warmer climate and lower altitude (7,600 feet above sea level rather than 12,700 feet above sea level in Yanamayo), which should, in the long run help her physically, Lori is being held in solitary confinement in this new prison. This did not occur in Yanamayo. In Socabaya Lori must endure each day, as she herself has stated: "totally and absolutely isolated from the world." Lori is not permitted to look at or speak to other prisoners and they are not permitted to look at or speak to her. Lori can speak only to the prison guards when they bring her food and water. Her one hour out in the yard is spent alone and, as in Yanamayo, she has no view of anything but the sky. During the first nine days at Socabaya, she was transported to and from the health clinic with a sheet over her head. Other arrangements have subsequently been made to keep Lori isolated from other prisoners. In addition, Lori has not been granted permission to receive visits from members of the Catholic Church.
Inside her dimly lit cell in an isolated wing of Socabaya Prison, Lori is permitted to read nonpolitical materials in Spanish, to knit, and to write letters in Spanish -- but we worry that the poor lighting can only exacerbate problems with her eyesight. As in Yanamayo, Lori is not permitted to use a telephone, watch TV, listen to radio or music, read newspapers, or read magazines that are under five years old.
We worry about continued deterioration of her body due to these physical conditions and the impact of total isolation on her spiritual well being.
Call to Action
Lori is innocent -- she has been imprisoned under horrendous conditions for 35 months. Lori wants to be free. Lori wants to return home. She does not wish to return to Yanamayo nor does she wish to remain in Socabaya or be imprisoned elsewhere in Perú. She has been illegally held without due process and without a real trial for far too long. President Clinton must do his duty and invoke 22 USC Section 1732 and do all in his power to secure the release of a wrongfully incarcerated citizen in a foreign land. Once again, please call the White House hot line at 202-456-1111 or send an Email to President Clinton (firstname.lastname@example.org) making sure that "Help Lori Berenson" is in the title of your message. Urge President Clinton to bring Lori home now.