Concerning Yanamayo Prison

Action Alert From Lori Berenson

August 4, 2002

Instead of looking for real solutions to the social, political, and economic crises in Perú, the government again shouts out the danger of so-called "terrorists" and punishes political prisoners to make a show of its power in front of the population.

Resolutions from the Justice Ministry and prison authorities confirm the imminent massive transfer of political prisoners to Yanamayo. Yanamayo and Chalapalca are jails located at high altitude in isolated southern Perú. Imprisonment there constitutes a punishment for prisoners and their families. National and international human rights organizations including the UN have denounced the inhumane conditions in these jails and recommended their closure. But contrarily this government inaugurated its current prison policy by sending political prisoners to Chalapalca in September 2001 and continues it today. On Saturday August 3rd, three political prisoners from this jail, Huacariz, were taken out of their cells and moved to another jail en route to Yanamayo.

Over the last month, increased social protests in Perú have been met with increased violence and brutality by the government. However, the motive behind these mass protests won't end with the terrorism scare. The social, economic, and political crises are due to the ultra-neo liberal economic policies. There is a Truth Commission in progress that should look to bring light upon the reality of political violence in Perú. But that will not be possible if, instead of going to the roots of the economic crisis and the existing problems in the political and judicial systems, the government continues to foster imaginary fears of terrorism each time there is social discontent or when the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights says something negative about Perú's Anti-terrorist laws. That kind of policy only works for authoritarian governments and is inadmissible in a democracy.

I urge you to write to Peruvian authorities -- President Alejandro Toledo, Prime Minister Luis Solari, Justice Minister Fausto Alvarado and Interior Minister Gino Costa -- about the need to close the condemned prisons at Yanamayo and Chalapalca that violate prisoner's human rights and cause further anxiety and oppression within the prison population. Send letters through the Acting Ambassador Nestor Popolizio, Embassy of Perú (1700 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036), or directly to the officials whose addresses can be found on the government of Perú's Website (

I think it is time the Peruvian government aids the search for the truth and discovers the causes of acts that occurred during the years of political violence in the 80's and 90's. And it should put effort into resolving the present political and economic crises.

Thank you.

Lori Berenson
Huacariz Prison
Cajamarca, Perú
August 4, 2002