[Marxism] The Persecution of Lori Berenson

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 27 08:26:37 MDT 2010

Counterpunch August 26, 2010
A Roman Circus in Peru
The Persecution of Lori Berenson



Once again the guardians of law and order fatten themselves on human 
suffering, assisted by their solicitous epigones of the press.  They 
wanted to produce a spectacle for the bleachers; they wanted to 
demonstrate the sacrosanct principle of  authority; they wanted to 
satisfy the thirst for vengeance of many.  But what they did was make 
the biggest fools of themselves in the international media, leaving on 
the floor the prestige of the “state of law” in Peru. Lori Berenson 
returns to jail on a legal technicality, totally ridiculous, like the 
authorization of her residence, which everyone knew and which attracted 
attention when the “good neighbors” of Miraflores protested her presence.

It was not a matter of ripping off the clothes of a North American 
connected to terrorism. Nor of a pitiful plea by someone supposed to be 
guilty and whom the tenderness of the tribunals left at liberty.   It is 
a case of disrespect for the judicial decisions, the result of due 
process.  We have seen with disbelief how an order of parole was revoked 
by consent of the most reactionary and retrograde sectors of the 
Executive Power.   It is a case of limited or non-existent independence 
of Judicial Power.

But in addition to violating the guaranties of the party to be judged, 
they are merciless with the person sentenced and her infant.   The 
newspaper media have inherited from the Fujimori/Montesinos period a way 
of acting as if lynching by periodicals were one tool more in the 
service of the repressive authority of the State.  This overload typical 
of the black shirt squadrons which surround the one interviewed to cut 
off his escape, make him stumble, cause him to despair and harass him 
without any consideration, pretends to be the expression of the 
rejection by the “good citizens” of everything they consider dangerous 
for the democratic system.

We saw it recently when indigenous leader Alberto Pizango returned to 
Peru and was arrested.  We saw it when presidential candidate Ollanta 
Humala tried to set up a debate with Alan García in 2006. We saw it and 
suffered when at the end of the megatrial against the MRTA, far from the 
Naval Base prison of Callao, reporters threw themselves on the families, 
blinding them with their reflectors, sticking the cameras and tape 
recorders in their faces, assaulting them with questions and preventing 
them free movement.  Whatever resistance there is to this massive 
aggression is interpreted as “an attack on the press.”   This same thing 
happened to Lori Berenson.  And the whole world has seen it.

They say there is no reason to make “any concession to terrorism which 
caused 69 thousand victims in the country.”  And this resembles chewed 
gum or a slogan; it is the refrain repeated by automata which makes no 
difference between victims caused by the subversive groups and those 
caused by the terrorism of the State.  Lieutenant Telmo Hurtado, 
assassin of 74 children and old people in Accomarca in 1985, when he was 
extradited from the United States in 2008, was not lynched by the press 
nor repudiated by the deceitful interpreters of public opinion.   Nor is 
anything said about those who govern us, president Alan García and vice 
president Admiral Luis Giampietri, guilty of the biggest massacre of 
political prisoners in Latin America: over 200 Sendero Luminoso 
captives in 1986.

For white collar thieves, a luxury compartment in San Jorge!  For state 
terrorists, impunity.   For the corrupt and genocidal, re-election. 
The ex-paramilitary  of the Comando Rodrigo Franco death squad (1985 to 
1990), work today in government posts, some on the roll of Congress, and 
retire under law 20530, the superficial decentralization project of 
García.   For Lori Berenson, accused of collaboration with terrorism, 
knowing that she killed nobody nor planted bombs, the exact contrary is 

It is not strange that bourgeois nationalism, that which welcomed 
militants like Congressmen Meckler and Torres Caro, and which paints 
itself as an alternative to raw capitalism, joins in the hysterical 
uproar of the middle class.  Even the nationalist newspaper – which only 
the stupid consider leftist – said that there were shady deals under the 
table between García and  Obama to free Berenson.  (¡Thanks Don César!) 
  But let’s remember that Ollanta Humala, in the elections of 2006, 
agreed with Alan García not to raise the issue of human rights.  He even 
demonstrated in favor of the termination of trials for the military who 
fought subversion.  And he, like his bishop Abugattás, spoke out against 
the parole of Lori Berenson in May 2010. Now Pedro Santos, nationalist 
congressman, says that "the Judicial Power is acting as it should.  We 
are acting without pressure from international organizations.  This is 
the most advantageous."   Very little can be expected of someone who has 
a brother abandoned to his fate behind bars for having commiteed the 
crime of rebellion.

The dangerousness of Lori Berenson or the risk of recidivism only occurs 
to the ignorant.  The MRTA ceased to exist and there is no political 
situation favorable to the renewal of armed struggle.   The ex-prisoners 
of the MRTA have reincorporated themselves into society and try to 
function politically by democratic means.  None of the former 
Tupacamarist prisoners have suffered a Calvary like that of Lori 
Berenson.  Therefore we must suppose that behind all this fanfare are 
other reasons which no one in the government dares confess.   It is 
question of an exemplary case which meets the necessary conditions for 
global propaganda, demonstrating “inflexibility” towards foreign 
interference and the possible renunciation of international covenants, 
agreements, and treaties with regard to human rights.  These are the 
means of indemnization of persons tried and convicted for terrorism by 
military tribunals during the Fujimori/Montesinos dictatorship, to whom 
the guaranties of due process were denied.

They have in their hands a cinematic victim to throw into the Roman 
circus: it is a woman and a foreigner.  Concerning the bravery of Alan 
García with foreign women, his own wife Pilar Nores, who has chosen to 
be prudent, could offer good testimony.   Brave subject, he who governs 
us!  Very brave against helpless women, against worn-out prisoners 
(1986) and against defenseless village children.

Dante Castro is an ex-MRTA political prisoner who has won various prizes 
as a writer in Peru

Translated by Bill Nottingham

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