News from Lori's Parents

21 March 2002

In this update:

Car bomb near U.S. Embassy in Lima

As we write this Update we have just learned that a car bomb exploded late Wednesday evening next to a bank and shopping center across the street from the U.S. Embassy in Lima's up-scale Monterrico neighborhood, a place we have visited frequently. Reports this morning indicate at least nine deaths and 40 injuries. It was the first car bombing in Lima in five years. Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of this horrific act and with all the people of Perú who for so many years lived daily in fear. May this never happen again.

Berensons respond to former Ambassodor's attack on Lori

It is clear that Dennis Jett, a former U.S. Ambassador to Perú, has timed an intensely poisonous article against Lori in the widely read Washington Post to coincide with President Bush's trip to Perú and an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights impending final decision on Lori's case. He used his credentials to imply he has inside information to make outrageously mean-spirited, blatantly-inaccurate, and erroneous statements about Lori to discredit support for her release from her wrongful six-year and four-month incarceration. Cashing in on this so-called "expertise," Mr. Jett has been quoted in many media outlets making wildly preposterous remarks. Mr. Jett is not a credible source. He does not know the facts in Lori's judicial proceedings. He is not a lawyer and does not show an understanding of Peruvian law. And he did not attend the unfair public trial that was personally observed by several international human rights lawyers and one U.S. Congressman (also a lawyer).

Further comments about Mr. Jett and a complete list of responses to his erroneous statements in The Washington Post can be read here.

"Human Rights Watch" condemns Perú's anti-terrorism laws

As President Bush prepares for his trip to Perú, the highly respected Human Rights Watch issued a report stating: "The Peruvian government has failed to reform the country's draconian and much-criticized anti-terrorism leglislation." Jose Miguel Vivanco, Executive Director of the Americas Division, said "Despite strong efforts to restore the rule of law trampled on during the ten-year rule of Alberto Fujimori, the government has not yet tackled the sweeping anti-terrorism laws that have trapped thousands of Peruvians in a legal nightmare." Human Rights Watch declared that "Laws against terrorism must be revised so as to define precisely the nature of the offenses, and make the penalties proportionate to the seriousness of the crime." Human Rights Watch also urged the Peruvian government to order civilian retrials of all prisoners whose basic due process rights were violated under the anti-terrorism laws.

Note that in the recent hunger strike in Peruvian prisons, such changes in the laws and retrials were part of the demands issued by the protesters - demands that former Ambassador Jett and Peruvian Justice Minister Olivera simply dismissed as terrorist rhetoric.

President Bush's visit to Perú

President Bush leaves for Latin America with visits to Mexico on Friday, Perú on Saturday, and El Salvador on Sunday. The visit to Perú will be the first in history for a U.S. President while holding office. Officials from both countries have publicly discussed agenda issues and Lori's case has been excluded from the forthcoming public meeting agenda. Nevertheless, officials from both countries have not discounted the possibility that Presidents Bush and Toledo will be discussing Lori's case privately - and we expect this to happen.

As President Bush departs on this historic journey to Perú, we ask for your thoughts and prayers - may this trip prove to be mutually beneficial to both countries and may both presidents, in the spirit of justice and humanitarian compassion, find a resolution to Lori's case - Saturday will be the 2,306th day that Lori has wrongfully spent in a Peruvian prison.

Thank you for all your help. - Rhoda and Mark Berenson