Lori Berenson's Full Statement to Appeals Court: August 16, 2010

(Translated from the original Spanish as shown on Canal N by Lori Berenson)

Mr. President, Madame Magistrates, Mr. Prosecutor. I have come today because I know that my liberty is at stake.

I have heard in the press, particularly from the state prosecutor, that I am a danger to society. And although oratory is not exactly my strongpoint, I am going to try to explain why I believe that I am not a danger to society.

In the first place, just to clarify something the prosecutor has just mentioned.  I was sentenced for the crime of collaboration with terrorism, and I did collaborate with the MRTA.  I have never been a leader, nor a militant of the MRTA. I have never participated in acts of violence nor of bloodshed, nor have I killed anyone.

And what I would like to clarify here is that I know that my mere participation, even though it was secondary in one incident, if it contributed to the violence in society I am deeply sorry and I am remorseful for that. If my coming to Perú has meant harm to the country, I am sorry and I am remorseful for that. If there are people who feel affected by my words or by my acts, I ask their forgiveness.  It is the only thing that I can say.

I was in prison for almost 15 years and I have reflected about this issue (political violence) over that time; I understand that violence did harm to society and I regret that I was involved with it.

I believe that a better society is achieved by building and not by destroying.  It is built by living together peacefully and that is what I have been doing. My behavior in prison was good; I didn't have problems in that sense. Actually, in jail one learns better about coexisting than here outside.  Because jail is such a small space in which people with different ideas, with different everything, necessarily have to coexist, one learns to reach consensus which, in fact, is something that is very useful for living in society.

In addition, I have a different vision of life.  It has been almost 15 years. I am now a 40-year-old woman. I left home when I was young. But I have a family that has sacrificed everything for me, and I would like to pay them back somehow. And more than that, I have a child, a 15-month-old son and he is a child I would like to be close to, like any mother. I would like to bring up my son – I want him to be a good man.  That is my aspiration. Since I my release that is what I am doing. That is what I am working for. I have to raise a child. I need to live. I am working. I am studying, and I am trying to live like a normal person with my family — my parents, my son and the godmother of my son. That is what I am doing.

I would just like to say, that at least from my own point of view, I do not pose a danger to anyone.

I lament the repercussion that my release has had on society. My case has always been sensationalized since I was first detained. But the reality is that although it [the repercussion] hurts me, I do accept it. I take responsibility that there is a sense of rejection towards me. I understand. But according to the law, according to my behavior, I do not pose a threat to anyone.

I hope that the court will make its decision according to the law, and I trust it will be so.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak.