News from Lori's Parents
18 November 2000
This is day 1,816 of Lori's wrongful incarceration in Perú.In this update:
- Perú's terrorism court grants prosecutor 20-day extension in Lori's case
- Perú stalls on Lori's O.A.S. petition and Ramsey Clark urges O.A.S. Commission to act on Lori now
- Fujimori government in political "quicksand" -- will it sink?
- Committee to Free Lori Berenson to participate in Columbus, GA. vigil to close down the School of the Americas
- Website adds user-friendly features
Perú's terrorism court grants prosecutor 20-day extension in Lori's case
According to unconfirmed reports, on November 17 the President of the Civilian Terrorism Court, Dr. Marcos Ibazeta, granted an extension of not more than 20 days so that the prosecutor is able to try to obtain more testimony in Lori's case. To date, Perú does not have sufficient evidence to warrant a conviction and the extension enables the prosecution to conduct a time-wasting "fishing expedition."
Over the past several weeks Lori has had very limited opportunity to meet with her Peruvian attorney, Dr. Jose Luis Sandoval Quesada, in clear violation of the American Convention on Human Rights. The "oral phase" of the "show trial" is expected to commence some time in December.
Perú stalls on Lori's O.A.S. petition and Ramsey Clark urges O.A.S. Commission to act on Lori now
On October 13, at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Lori's U.S. lawyers Ramsey Clark and Tom Nooter argued the lack of due process and double jeopardy in her present judicial proceedings. On October 19, the Commission gave the government of Perú 15 days to provide legal reasons why Lori remains in custody facing a civilian trial despite the nullification of the military judgment against her. This 15-day period has long expired. Perú has requested more time. On November 14, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark wrote to the Commission, requesting "that Perú be required to make its response immediately, without any further delay, and failing to do so, that the Commission order the release of Lori Berenson forthwith."
The full text of the letter appears here.
Fujimori government in political "quicksand" -- will it sink?
To the amazement of many, President Fujimori left Perú for the Pacific Rim APEC conference in Brunei on Tuesday. He also was scheduled to attend a Latin-American conference in Panama before returning to Perú. Yesterday he cancelled the Panama trip and this morning it was announced he was ill and staying in Japan -- some analysts speculate permanently. Incredulously, these and other events resulted in an editorial by the always pro-Fujimori newspaper Expreso raising the question "Who Is In Charge of Perú?" Not a day seems to pass in Perú without a government scandal or sensational event bringing discredit to the Fujimori government. This morning, a report from the Peruvian Ombudsman indicates that Perú's military and police caused more than 4,000 confirmed "disappearances" of civilians in its war against Shining Path and MRTA guerrillas and that more than 2,000 additional "disappearances" are still unconfirmed. Over 1,800 of the "disappearances" occurred in the first six years of Fujimori's presidency when, according to the Associated Press, "Peruvian security forces made a regular practice of kidnapping, torturing, and murdering peasants suspected of involvement."
For latest political happenings see "Perú News" on the home page of our website and the "In the News" dialogue box.
Since our November 9 update the following has occurred:
- With President Fujimori's political party splintering the opposition was able to oust his loyal supporter Martha Hilderbrandt as President of the Congress in a 64 to 51 vote. The opposition candidate Valentin Paniagua was then elected over the pro-Fujimori candidate by the same 64 to 51 margin. Should it choose to do so, the opposition now has the Constitutional power to oust President Fujimori on the grounds of "moral ineptitude."
- Carlos Bolona, prominent Minister of Economics, predicts Fujimori will be ousted or forced to step down before the new year -- Fujimori agreed to step down on July 28, 2001, the date a newly elected government is expected to take office. Prime Minister Federico Salas concurred, stressing that the Peruvian political scene was in a state of uncertainty.
- From a Colombia jail cell the brother of Pedro Escobar, late Medellin narcotraffic leader, said that Pedro gave Fujimori and Montesinos about a million dollars for the 1990 presidential campaign.
- Prime Minister Federico Salas admits that the SIN (National Intelligence Service) had a torture center of six rooms along with an interrogation facility. Two weeks ago he denied such places existed within the bowels of the SIN building.
- Congresswoman Susana Higuchi, ex wife of President Fujimori, believes she had been tortured by electric shock and other means on at least two different occasions by order of Vladimiro Montesinos.
- The opposition released a videotape showing Vladimiro Montesinos, centered on the dais and flanked by the Interior Minister and Defense Minister and the other top generals who lead the four military branches, making a toast at a May 28 military reception in which he congratulates their joint efforts of coordination that led to the Fujimori presidential "victory" -- in accordance with Peruvian law the military is supposed to play a neutral role and military personnel are not permitted to vote.
- One of the homes of Vladimiro Montesinos was searched, likely without a warrant, and hundreds of videotapes were impounded along with millions of dollars worth of jewelry and expensive clothing.
- Vladimiro Montesinos publishes a story in a Mexican newspaper claiming his innocence but that he is sure President Fujimori wants him dead.
- Vladimiro Montesinos is believed to be in hiding in northern Bolivia.
- President Fujimori and supporter Congresswoman Martha Chavez are asked to provide testimony regarding their knowledge of the arms trafficking scandal involving weapons sold by Jordan that eventually were sold to the Colombian FARC.
- President Fujimori allegedly took 30 suitcases of personal belongings with him on his trip to the international conferences and it was rumored that he was to seek asylum in an Asian country.
Questions: Can Fujimori survive politically the current chaos -- will the United States once again come to his aid? How will the military react to any move in Congress to oust Fujimori? Who will run the country if Fujimori is ousted? And what will happen to Lori -- Perú's principle political pawn?
Committee to Free Lori Berenson to participate in Columbus, GA. vigil to close down the School of the Americas
Many Peruvian officers involved in the disappearances, torture, and murder of Peruvian peasants received counterinsurgency training at the School of the Americas (SOA) in Fort Benning, GA. This weekend, Ken Dubberly, Kristen Gardner, Deborah Hirsh, and Gail Taylor will represent the Committee to Free Lori Berenson at this year's SOA vigil. They will pass out fliers educating people about the effects of US army training on the deteriorating democracy in Perú, and the effects on the justice system and the Lori Berenson case, in particular. There will be a giant Lori puppet wearing a Free Lori T-shirt.
For more information, please visit the School of the Americas Watch website www.soaw.org or read our "Update."
The US Army School of the Americas (SOA) is a combat training school for soldiers and officers from Latin America, located at Ft. Benning, GA. According to School of the Americas Watch, during its 54-year history, the SOA has readied over 60,000 Latin American troops in commando tactics, military intelligence, psychological operations, and advanced combat skills. SOA graduates have been responsible for massacres, torture, and assignations throughout Latin America.
In 1965, the SOA graduated the most infamous figure in Perú today, Vladimiro Montesinos. Ninety percent of the Peruvian population wants to see him tried for the corruption and human rights abuses in which he has been a central figure. Montesinos is currently in hiding, but the corrupt systems he helped to mastermind are still grinding forward, crushing democracy in Perú.
In addition to Mr. Montesinos, Peruvian Defense Minister Carlos Bergamino is an honor graduate of SOA and Walter Chacon, former Interior Minister and recently named as head of the army and chief of Perú's joint armed forces command, is also a graduate.
Website adds user-friendly features
Thanks to webmaster Ken Dubberly the www.freelori.org website now offers useful materials as "PDFs." These files include letters, petitions, brochures,and flyers that can be downloaded and printed on your own computer. To view and use, just click the "Downloads" dialogue box on the home page.
In addition, we have revised the section "Perú's Views" to take into account the revisions and additions to the Peruvian government's website. We have also highlighted a section called "Frequency Asked Questions" in which we provide the answers to qustions about Lori's incarceration and present situation. A dialogue box called "Frequently Asked Questions," cross-referenced with "Perú's Views," is forthcoming.
Many thanks for your continued support.- Rhoda and Mark Berenson