News from Lori's Parents

4 December 2006

In this update:

Lori begins 12th year of imprisonment

On Thursday, November 30th Lori completed her 11th year of wrongful imprisonment in Perú. It came at a time when the recently elected Peruvian President Alan Garcia is promising to make life tougher for political prisoners. It is also a time that we look forward to a new Congressional composition in the USA that will hopefully improve things on many fronts.

Lori's continued wrongful incarceration was remembered in an article - "An American forgotten by the right, the MSM, and yes, the left".

Another recent article, "Golden Cages: Wealth and Misery in Perú's Highlands," discussing Perú and Lori, appeared in Z Magazine.

End-of-year message from Lori

Lori is still in the north of Perú and is still working at the bakery. Rhoda and Kathy visited her for her 37th birthday (Nov. 13) and they brought back the following end-of-year message:

Dear Friends,

My best wishes to you from northern Perú, thanking you for your continued concern and support.

Yet another year in jail is coming to a close, and I remember a repeated conversation I’ve had with my parents over the last two years: What could I recommend that people do to change my situation?

This is such a complex issue that I wouldn’t even know where to begin to respond to it. The year 2006 in Perú has been an electoral one. There were two rounds of presidential elections at the beginning of the year and municipal/regional ones at the end. A new government in power began its term calling for the restoration of the death penalty and harshening the legislation for those who protest (particularly the contamination caused by the irresponsible extraction of native resources such as gold, copper, natural gas, etc.). Then the government of Alan Garcia launched a major offensive against the human rights community, seeking to restrict – even more – the functioning of NGOs through a new, controlling law.

The leadership of both subversive armed organizations (the Shining Path and the MRTA) that existed in Perú during the eighties and early nineties were sentenced to very high prison terms; however, the policies of "reconciliation" have been limited to promised "reparations" to certain communities affected by the internal war.

There is such a level of confusion on the issue of political violence in Perú, such continuous misinformation in the media and a momentary political utilization by the government as a "smoke screen" that it is extremely difficult to even fathom how to make a space for other opinions on that topic (even though people do say that a country that is incapable of understanding its past is condemned to repeat it). My case is completely immersed in that pool of confusion and would be difficult to separate from it.

The general trend is the restriction of jail benefits. Prisoners for "terrorism" are having a harder time receiving those benefits now-a-days, and several filed-away cases are now being re-opened.

So, what can be done? We need to work to change the way the world is working, because Perú’s problems with its past and present have everything to do with the general globalized horrific mess. We have to stop the war in Iraq, close down Guantanamo, and help countries like Perú to become more just ones – which entails their comprehension of why people rose up against the systems of injustice and not a return to the use of the death penalty.

My best to you all.

Lori Berenson

We also want to express our gratitude for your continued concern and support for our daughter Lori. All best wishes to you and your loved ones for this holiday season.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson