- Special Sections
- Public Notices
When I wrote, a couple of weeks ago, that Lori Berenson is a criminal, I certainly was not setting myself up to be her judge.
I certainly wasn’t intending to pronounce judgement upon her — that job has already been done by two separate Peruvian courts. The first sentenced her to life in prison for assisting a Marxist group, Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru (MRTA), that was carrying out a violent effort to overthrow Peru’s democratically elected government. After Peru’s legal system declared the law, under which she was sentenced, unconstitutional, Berenson was given a new trial. This second court also found her guilty, sentencing her to 20 years in prison and giving her credit for time served. This means that she is not serving a life sentence, but rather a 20-year sentence that ends in 2015. Furthermore, she is eligible for parole next year.
This, by the way, is the same Peruvian court system that ultimately indicted and convicted Alberto Fujimori on charges stemming from his abuses of power as Peru’s president. One conviction led to a six-year prison sentence and another, just last month, resulted in a 25-year prison sentence. Fujimori was the president that Berenson’s MRTA buddies were trying to overthrow. Peru’s democratic system and courts managed to deal with him without imposing a Marxist nightmare on the Peruvian people in the process.
Instead of accepting the fact that Berenson has been convicted of serious criminal activity by two Peruvian courts, Rick Howell and his fellow liberals still insist on branding her a political prisoner. They apparently feel that Latin American democracies aren’t competent to constitute courts to hear criminal cases. This is the sort of overbearing arrogance on our part that forms the root of anti-Americanism in Latin America.
My reference to a Wikipedia article in my April 15 column, to which Mr. Howell responded last week, was not intended as an expression of my research on Lori Berenson. I’ve been aware of Berenson for more than a decade, so I really didn’t need to research her. As Mr. Howell had directed readers to a propaganda Web site, I thought it good to remind readers that one can easily find material about Berenson on the Internet, beyond the propaganda. Wikipedia, along with the aforementioned propaganda site, come out at the top of a Google search.
For that matter, I didn’t need to do research on the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) in El Salvador. I’ve been aware of them since the ‘80s. FMLN is indeed an umbrella group. Although it morphed into a legitimate political party in a democratic El Salvador after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the groups under this umbrella were all Marxist guerilla organizations engaged in the same type of brutality as the right wing death squads to which the Salvadoran government turned a blind eye.
Once the Communist revolution in El Salvador died out with the loss of its foreign patronage, Berenson clearly went looking for another Marxist revolution to support. She found it in Peru in the form of MRTA.
Before his death, a man named Noble Alexander spoke at my church. The Rev. Alexander, a Cuban pastor, was released in the ‘80s after more than 20 years in prison and allowed to leave the country. Alexander was imprisoned, and repeatedly tortured, for the crime of being a Christian pastor in Cuba under Fidel Castro’s government.
This is the sort of regime that Berenson and her friends wanted to impose in Peru. It boggles my mind that anyone who grew up in the United States, benefitting from the freedoms that we have had for generations, could not be disturbed by this.