Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0963. Thursday, 19 December 1996.
Date: Tuesday, 17 Dec 1996 10:31:43 -0500
Subject: Lori Berenson Update
Rhoda and Mark Berenson
Information about Lori can be found on the Web at
VISIT TO LORI ON DECEMBER 7TH
We have just returned from visiting Lori at Yanamayo Prison in Peru. This was
our first visit after not seeing or speaking with her for a year and the
experience is upsetting. The visit lasted but 30 minutes. We were separated by
two screens which allowed us to see each other but not touch. It was very cold
there, even though summer is but two weeks away. As had been reported, Lori
suffers circulation problems which have resulted in swollen, deformed fingers,
dizzy spells, digestive difficulties resulting in weight loss, and chronic sore
throat and laryngitis. Although her mind is clear and her spirit remains
strong, we noticed definite signs of anxiety which we attribute to the
continuous psychological harassment Lori faces. In addition, the 30-minute
limitation made the visit very tense. Nevertheless, Lori made a point of asking
us to thank all of you for your support for her and for us.
Lori continued to profess her innocence and her desire for a fair trial in an
open Peruvian court to clear her name and bolster human rights in Peru.
However, if the Peruvian government is not inclined to provide such due
process, Lori believes she should be given a pardon. We worry that continued
incarceration will result in permanent health damage. Although suggestions have
been made that Lori utilize the existing treaty between the two countries to
transfer to a U.S. prison, that is not a viable option since it would
automatically result in a long prison term here without any rights to challenge
the lack of due process in Peru.
CONGRESSMAN BILL RICHARDSON OFFERS CONTINUED HELP
In August, Representative Bill Richardson of New Mexico, acting as a special
envoy of President Clinton, traveled to Lima and met with Peruvian President
Alberto Fujimori and other top governmental officials. A discussion of Lori's
case was one of several items on his agenda. Both governments have taken the
position that Lori's case is truly a thorn in the side of Peruvian and American
relations. On December 12th, in an interview in the Washington Post,
Representative Richardson said that "he hopes he won't have to curb his
activities if he's named to a top administrative post. Future assignments
include Lori Berenson, a New Yorker held in Peru." On December 13th,
Representative Richardson was nominated to become the United States Ambassador
to the United Nations.
We are very pleased that Representative Richardson will continue to help.
Nevertheless, given Lori's deteriorating health, we must apply all means of
IMMEDIATE CALLS FOR ACTION
1. Given the recent media coverage of our visit, it is important to keep Lori's
story alive. If any of you have contacts in the media or wish to write Op-Ed
articles, please let us know.
2. If you have not yet written to President Clinton, please do so now to
emphasize the urgency for his intervention, given Lori's deteriorating health.
3. We have been told that Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato who has earned a
reputation for his tenacity and strength could impress on Peru the need for an
immediate resolution to Lori's situation. Please contact Senator D'Amato
immediately by phone at 1-800-972-3524 or at 1-202-224-6542 or by mail (A
sample letter follows).
The Honorable Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato
United States Senate
520 Senate Hart Building
Washington, D.C. 20510.
Dear Senator D'Amato:
The parents of your constituent Lori Berenson have just returned from visiting
her in the harsh Yanamayo prison in Puno, Peru, following a one-year moratorium
Ms. Berenson has spent the past eleven months under a "special regimen"
designed to promote a slow death. The temperature indoors, where she spends
23.5 hours per day in a small, concrete cell, is always below 40 degrees
Fahrenheit and reaches as low as 0 degrees. There is no heat or running water.
Food and water (for drinking and washing) are insufficient. Medical services
are vastly inadequate. Ms. Berenson suffers from altitude-related problems
-- swollen, purple, and cut fingers along with circulatory and digestive
problems and dizzy spells. In addition, she suffers from chronic sore throat
In June, Ms. Berenson wrote a letter to the U.S. Congress claiming her
innocence and asking for help in obtaining a fair trial in a civilian court.
To date, Peru has ignored all U.S. government requests for such a trial,
including those made by yourself and your colleagues.
Knowing the reputation you have earned for your tenacity and your concern for
the well being of your constituents, and, given Ms. Berenson's deteriorating
physical condition, I urge you to make strong appeal to quickly resolve her