News from Lori's Parents

12 April 2000

This is day 1,596 of wrongful incarceration.

"To be silent in the face of injustice is to be an accomplice to evil. I will not be silent." Lori Berenson, January 2000

In this update:

Peru's elections still not settled

Numerous articles in newspapers all over the world point out Perú's impunity and disdain for fairness, democratic principles and human rights. We must realize that the same dirty tricks that include violations and arbitrary interpretation of law to preserve self-serving interests, so apparent in the Peruvian election process, were used to incarcerate Lori without due process. She is in prison because of policies in which ends justify the means - just as in the elections. The same lawless attitudes were used by the police who arrested her and by a controlled tribunal that condemned her.

For more than four years the Peruvian government has lied, fabricated stories, and slandered Lori without presenting evidence. These were the very same "methods" that were used by the Fujimori government in its attempts to thwart opposition presidential candidates. The "methods" worked to derail two strong opponents - but Alberto Fujimori failed to realize the appeal of Alejandro Toledo. Inexplicably, "official" vote counts have not been fully tabulated as yet, three days after the election, but all statistical indicators show that a runoff between Fujimori and Toledo is expected. Incomprehensibly, as in many other aspects of Perú's "democracy," the law calls for all individual ballots to be destroyed immediately after the vote count so that it is impossible to do a recount or check for individual ballot fraud.

The U.S. Congress rightfully has expressed serious concerns about the corrupted and totally unfair election process through Joint Resolution 43, which threatens to modify political and economic relations with Perú. But an election process is but one part of democracy. Human rights are equally if not more important. The U.S. Congress should express the same concerns for respect for human rights as it did for the election process. The U.S. Congress cannot have higher commitment to an election process than to an individual citizen's human rights. The U.S. Congress should demand Lori's release now.

Rabbinical group visits Lori

A religious delegation consisting of Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein of Temple B'nai Jeshurun in New York City, Rabbi Josh Saltzman of the American Jewish World Services in New York City, and Rabbi Guillermo Bronstein of Lima, Perú were permitted a private visit with Lori in Socabaya Prison. The recent visit was approved by the U.S. State Department and by the Foreign Ministry of the Government of Perú. The visit lasted nearly four hours.

Lori was thrilled to see the rabbis. She had been looking forward to seeing Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein again and continuing their discussion from last year. He visited Lori as part of an ecumenical delegation last May, along with Sister Dr. Eileen Storey of Sisters of Charity in New York City and the Reverend Dr. William J. Nottingham of the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. This was the first visit by his brother, Rabbi Guillermo Bronstein of Lima.

The rabbis reported that Lori was in very good spirits and that she has maintained a great sense of humor despite her miserable existence. They spoke about several subjects, including religion, ethics, justice, prison life, politics, history, and literature. The rabbis were impressed by Lori's integrity, concern for humanity, and strong sense of conviction. When she saw Rhoda last weekend, Lori described that rabbinical visit in three words - "it was wonderful."

Upcoming events

Saturday, April 15, Latin American Solidarity Conference, St. Stephen Episcopal Church, 16th Street and Newton Street, NW, Washington, DC, 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, April 18, Rally and Vigil at the Peruvian Embassy, 17th Street and Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 4:00 to 6:30 p.m., to protest human rights abuses in Perú.

Don't forget: Congressional campaign

The "Dear Colleague Letters" to President Clinton are now circulating in both the House and the Senate urging him to secure Lori's release. We need your help to get your Senators and your Representative to sign on to these letters.

Use the sample letters on the website or write your own.

Please call (or follow up your letters with phone calls to) your Senators and your Representative in Washington at 202-225-3121 to urge them to sign on to the circulating "Dear Colleague Letter." After reaching the appropriate office, ask to speak to the Legislative Assistant for Foreign Relations. Indicate that you are a constituent and that you would urge your elected official to sign the "Dear Colleague Letter" to President Clinton to secure the release of Lori Berenson. When speaking with a Senate office, mention the "Dear Colleague Letter" from Senator Moynihan. When speaking with a House office, mention the "Dear Colleague Letter" from Representative Maloney.

Please check the website for updates on who has signed.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson