News from Lori's Parents

8 May 2000

This is day 1,622 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:

Rhoda and Kathy prepare for Mother's Day Visit to Peru

For the first time in several years Rhoda is looking forward to spending Mother's Day with both her daughters. Rhoda and Kathy plan to bring Chinese food, bagels, and falafel from New York. Mother's Day is a very important holiday in Peru and Rhoda and Kathy are hoping that the Peruvian government will extend the visit beyond the one hour stipulated by prison regulations.

The impact of isolation: "Who is Brad Pitt?"

As you know, Lori has lived essentially in isolation since her move to Socabaya Prison on October 7, 1998. And prior to that, Lori spent nearly three years in Yanamayo Prison where she did not experience social isolation but in other ways was isolated from the world -- she had no access to radio, TV, newspapers, or magazines. A friend from high school recently wrote to Lori to tell her that actress Jennifer Aniston was now dating Brad Pitt. (Jennifer was a high school classmate of Lori's, although they did not know each other - Jennifer studied performing arts and Lori studied voice). Lori wrote back: "Is Brad Pitt famous? I haven't the faintest idea of who he is."

Peruvian election campaign heats up: Lori becomes major issue

The second and final round of the Peruvian presidential elections is scheduled for Sunday, 28 May. Latest polls indicate a "virtual statistical tie" and it is too early to tell whether President Alberto Fujimori can expect reelection or whether his opponent, Dr. Alejandro Toledo, will become the next president of Peru.

Lori has become a major issue in the Peruvian presidential runoff campaign. Statements from both candidates have condemned and smeared her. She once again is a symbol of Peru's strength against terrorism as well as Peru's ability to stand up to the USA. This latest massive public vilification of Lori is in clear violation of Article 12 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights to which Peru is a signatory.

This demagoguery is painful to read. A host of inflammatory remarks about Lori from Peruvian officials, from the pro-Fujimori media, and from Peruvian citizens have appeared. We have registered very strong complaints with U.S. government officials about this.

Continued urgent "Call to Action" - contact your Senators and Representatives

This past week Congress resumed its session following a spring recess. Our Congressional Campaign is now in full swing. URGENT: Please check our website at to determine if your Senators and Congressional Representative have signed the respective "Dear Colleague" letters that have been circulating. If they have, please thank them. If they have not, please contact them (202-224-3121) and remind them to sign. Instructions and sample Senate and House letters (with talking points) are on the website.

The Senate letter urges President Clinton to secure Lori's release on humanitarian grounds. The House letter urges President Clinton to use all diplomatic means necessary short of going to war with Peru to secure Lori's release.

John Cardinal O'Connor

One does not have to be Catholic nor have to agree with some of his deeply felt religious and moral views to mourn the passing of a truly great man who through his love, compassion, and the wisdom of his age touched so many lives. We join with his congregation and the community of persons of good will throughout the world in expressing our sorrow at his passing. We had the honor of being given an audience with Cardinal O'Connor in 1996. He promised us then that his "door would always be open to us" and on those occasions when we called or wrote he always responded promptly. And over the years he and Lori exchanged some cards and letters. Before his illness Cardinal O'Connor gave thought to visiting Lori. Our last communication occurred but two weeks ago - we received a letter from the Cardinal's office indicating he was pleased for us to learn about the Anthony Lewis column in The New York Times. The letter hinted that the Cardinal was quite ill. When Lori learned of this at our subsequent visit to Peru and knowing he was having difficulty with his eyesight Lori said she would make him a card and use thread instead of ink so that he would be able to trace with his fingers what the card conveyed. Perhaps the greatest honor we can bestow on Cardinal O'Connor is to keep his memory alive by thinking of his compassion and goodness every day. He loved humanity and was truly a man for all people.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson