News from Lori's Parents

25 December 2007

In this update:

Update on Lori

Mark returned yesterday from his holiday visit with Lori and Rhoda visited Lori over the Thanksgiving weekend. Yesterday Lori was completing her final batch of panetones (traditional holiday fruitcakes) after spending a grueling six straight weeks of 15-20 hour-days working in the prison bakery she co-manages. She and her coworkers produced thousands of these cakes, along with baking daily supplies of rolls, breads and other pastries.

Lori has now completed 12 years and 1 month of her 20-year sentence. She is eligible for parole (conditional liberty) after 15 years. She remains a model prisoner. She has continued to champion prisoner rights and with the prison director has developed proposals to bring education, health and re-socialization programs into the prison so that inmates will be better prepared to contribute to society upon their release.

Lori was also very pleased to learn that many of you had contributed to Caritas del Perú, the aid agency of Perú's Catholic Church, as well as other relief services following our last Lori Update on August 22nd about the horrific earthquake in the city of Ica and coastal town of Pisco that brought much devastation and cost over 500 lives. She was truly saddened to hear that to date the Peruvian government has apparently acted even less efficiently and effectively in its assistance to the earthquake victims than the Bush administration has done in its assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Recent photos of Lori in newspapers & recent television interviews

On two recent occasions the Peruvian government permitted local media to interview Lori and others about work programs, including the bakery. In an October 22nd interview Lori expressed that she and others who are able to work in the Cajamarca prison are fortunate because elsewhere the Peruvian government has not provided the prison system (INPE) with sufficient funds to offer education and re-socialization programs. Lori expressed her concern that many Peruvian prisons are very overcrowded and they simply function as 'human warehouses,' storing prisoners as inventory. Much of the interview, titled 'Breaking the Silence in Cajamarca,' was played on Peruvian TV and can be viewed at

On the second occasion, the Peruvian government wanted to show how Lori and others in the bakery she co-manages have been spending their time preparing panetones to be sold to the Cajamarca community for the Christmas holiday. Newspaper articles with color photos of Lori in the bakery can be seen by at ('Lori Promotes Panetones She Makes in from Huacariz Prison in Cajamarca', “ December 7th) and at ('Lori Sells Panetones from Prison', December 10th).

The media coverage of Lori baking and being interviewed, titled 'From Terror to Paneton in Cajamarca,' was shown on Peruvian TV and can be viewed at

Lori's health

Lori's health remains stable. She wears a back-brace for an early detected osteoarthritis of the spine and she continues to suffer from circulatory problems that keep her hands swollen, her feet sometimes numb, and her face red. These effects are very obvious from both the recent color photos of Lori and the TV interviews. Lori is not sunburned and does not wear makeup. Her rosy cheeks and face as well as her hands are the result of the circulatory problems.

Support for Lori in Perú

During the year, three prominent Peruvians published articles championing Lori. Congressman Javier Valle Riestra (a former Prime Minister of Perú), wrote newspaper articles arguing that Lori should be pardoned because she was a political pawn abused by ex-President Fujimori, now on trial for human rights violations. State Prosecutor Diego Ferrar (who visits Lori regularly in prison) wrote an op-ed article for a local newspaper describing the 'real Lori' the media never reports. Winston Orrillo (a university professor) has written articles and sponsored a letter calling for Lori's release that was signed by Peruvian and international educators, writers, artists and activists. We are extremely grateful to them for providing the Peruvian public with a different view of Lori.

In closing we want to express how grateful we are for all your concern and support for Lori and for us over these many years. Let us hope that 2008 will be the year that brings peace to this earth, joy to all of our lives, and freedom for Lori.

Lori's end-of-year statement

Penal de Huacariz - Cajamarca, Perú December 2007

Dear friends,

Thank you for your interest and support over the years. I have been working many hours in the prison bakery so that time passes more quickly as I wait out the remaining years of my sentence. There are still many people like myself, guilty or not of the crimes they are accused of, who are waiting out the next years, some with very lengthy sentences and parole prohibitions, who have not stopped dreaming of a more just world.

With the holiday season and the coming of the New Year I try to remember the most important events of this past year and the things that most surprised me.

The economic situation for most Peruvians has worsened. Inflation is high -- basic food staples such as flour products, oil, rice and milk have risen 50 to 70 percent over last year. Amidst this economic crisis, Peruvian President Alan Garcia's government has taken repressive measures against teachers, unions, regional opposition leaders, etc. Thus it is refreshing to still find Peruvian people who have not been maimed by it all, who have not been overwhelmed by hopelessness.

President Garcia's administration has remained afloat through the crisis by using smoke screens like 'terrorism' scares and by 'over-publicizing' government concerns for aiding earthquake victims - yet not carrying out the necessary measures to make that effective.

Earlier in the year, President Garcia asked for special powers to legislate on different criminal acts and wound up putting in a few extras that only demonstrate his fear of any opposition. Not only have the new laws affected the parole possibilities of those of us sentenced for terrorism-related acts, but there is a new law that states that any member of the military or the Peruvian police who uses a fire arms while on duty cannot be tried for the consequences of that action. And, as though it were 'buy one get one free,' President Garcia then added another law that had nothing to do with the topics he went to legislate on, prohibiting locally and regionally elected officials from participating in any social protest.

Then, of course, big news this year was the extradition of ex-President Alberto Fujimori from Chile and the commencement of trials for corruption and for crimes against humanity. Let's see if 'real justice' can prevail in his cases. I have my doubts.

The year has drawn to an end with the signing of the trade treaty between the US and Perú. I wish it could be mutually beneficial but that is not possible. I see this trade treaty as David meeting Goliath without having a sling shot. Perú is not on an equal footing with the US due to size, resources, economic stability, government support of agriculture, etc. In Perú local production leads to local consumption but if, say, US potatoes start flooding the local markets what will happen to the local farmers?

2008 will be a key year to evaluate the outcome of these and other issues. In spite of the pessimism I express in this letter, I remain optimistic about social justice prevailing over the long term.

I wish you and your loved ones all the best in 2008.

Lori B.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson