This week, a Congressional human rights caucus briefing heard testimony on the case of Lori Berenson, a U.S. citizen who has served almost four years of a life sentence in Peru on charges of “treason to the fatherland.”
Berenson was tried by a hooded military judge, accused of terrorism, being a leader in the rebel group MRTA (Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru) and of conspiring to take over the Peruvian Congress. She was not allowed to see the evidence against her, nor was she able to defend herself against the charges. She remains in a Peruvian prison, and suffers from serious health problems from having been held for three years in a high-altitude prison.
Human rights organizations and others have called on Congress and the Clinton administration to put pressure on the Fujimori government to allow Berenson to return to the United States.
Meanwhile this week, a shocking revelation about U.S. involvement with a notorious arm of the Peruvian government became public. In a striking passage, the Senate approved this week a foreign aid bill that includes a chapter criticizing “U.S. support for the Peruvian National Intelligence Service,” known by its Spanish acronym SIN. The United States has not openly acknowledged a liaison with SIN.
The service has a reputation of violent right-wing repression and, despite its ostensible role as a counternarcotics force, as an institution corrupted by cocaine.
- Colletta Youngers, Senior Associate at Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). She testified before the House Human Rights Caucus.
- PJ Crowley, Spokesperson for the National Security Council at the White House. Call the White House: 202.456.1111.
- Mark Berenson, father of Lori Berenson.
- Rep. Jim Mc Govern, (D-MASS), he represents Wooster, Mass.