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        <h1 id="reader-title">Lori Berenson After Being Held 20 Years in
          Peru: "My Objectives Were to Achieve a More Just Society"</h1>
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                  <h3>January 4, 2016<br>
                  </h3>
                  <div class="guest">
                    <div class="guest_information"><a
                        href="http://www.democracynow.org/appearances/lori_berenson"
                        data-ga-action="Story: Appearance">Lori Berenson</a>
                      <p>once-imprisoned U.S. activist who has returned
                        home from Peru after serving 20 years in prison
                        and on parole for collaborating with the Túpac
                        Amaru Revolutionary Movement.</p>
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              <p>The once-imprisoned U.S. activist Lori Berenson has
                returned home nearly two decades after being tried and
                convicted of collaborating with the Túpac Amaru
                Revolutionary Movement in Peru. Berenson is a former
                student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who
                left school to become an activist in the 1980s in El
                Salvador during the Reagan years and then moved on to
                Peru. In 1996, she was tried by a hooded military judge
                while prosecutors used secret evidence against her, and
                was ultimately convicted to a 20-year sentence. For
                three years, she was held in the frigid Yanamayo prison
                in the Andes mountains in an unheated, open-air cell
                without running water. After a major outcry, she was
                later transferred to the Socabaya prison in Arequipa,
                Peru. Berenson was released on parole in 2010 but was
                barred from leaving Peru for good until her sentence
                expired a few weeks ago. Democracy Now! was the first to
                interview Berenson in the Socabaya prison and broadcast
                her voice to the U.S. public after she was sentenced,
                and has long covered her case. She now joins us for her
                first television interview as a free woman back home.</p>
              <hr class="transcript">
              <p class="fine_print">This is a rush transcript. Copy may
                not be in its final form.</p>
              <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                    class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> We end today’s
                show with Lori Berenson, the once-imprisoned U.S.
                activist who has returned home from Peru after nearly
                two decades. Berenson is a former student at the
                Massachusetts Institute of Technology who left school to
                become an activist in the ’80s in El Salvador during the
                Reagan years, then moved on to Peru. In ’96, she was
                convicted of collaborating with the Túpac Amaru
                Revolutionary Movement in Peru. She was tried by a
                hooded military judge. Prosecutors used secret evidence
                against her. For three years, she was held at the frigid
                Yanamayo prison in the Andes mountains in an unheated,
                open-air cell without running water. After a major
                outcry, she was transferred to the Socabaya prison in
                Arequipa, Peru. Lori Berenson was released on parole in
                2010 but barred from leaving Peru for good until her
                sentence expired a few weeks ago. We are the first to
                interview Lori in the Socabaya prison when she was there
                in 1999 and now the first to have an extended interview
                with her when she came home. I talked to her last week
                and asked how it feels to be free.</p>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> It’s
                  wonderful to be here. I’ve been on parole for many
                  years, which was similar to being free, but it’s nice
                  to be completely free.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> And to be
                  back home in the United States for good.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> It’s nice
                  to be with my family. It’s nice to see old friends.
                  It’s nice to have the possibility of doing those
                  things.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> What brought
                  a young woman who was a freshman at <span
                    class="caps">MIT</span> first to Salvador and then
                  to Peru?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> I decided
                  that I was not in agreement with the type of academia
                  work I’d be able—you know, you could, yeah, get a
                  degree, and then you become part of the system. And I
                  thought that becoming part of the system somehow—you
                  know, I mean, other people are able to use that to—and
                  to use it very well to the benefit of social justice,
                  but others tend to be absorbed by the system. And I
                  didn’t want to be part of—absorbed by the system. I
                  also, you know, had a very different—at the time, I
                  sort of started seeing that the world has a lot less
                  to do with what you learn in school than what you
                  learn in life, and that the meaning of degrees
                  is—shouldn’t be that. So it was—in part, it was my way
                  of saying, you know, I don’t believe in this type of
                  system. On the other hand, I wanted to support
                  processes that sought to change what at the time of
                  this—this was when the U.S. was supporting death
                  squads and supporting—you know, sending millions of
                  dollars in military aid to bomb the civilian
                  population in El Salvador. So that was the context in
                  which I decided to get involved. It was a very
                  different context than when I go to Peru, but it’s
                  certainly in the case of El Salvador, that was a
                  fundamental reason that brought me to that, was: How
                  could my government, that talks about democracy, be
                  doing this?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> And so, you
                  went to Peru. And how soon after you were in Peru that
                  you were arrested?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> I was
                  arrested a year later.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> Explain what
                  the <span class="caps">MRTA</span> was.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> The <span
                    class="caps">MRTA</span> is an organization that
                  basically followed the example of the guerrilla
                  movements of the 1960s in Peru and the rest of the
                  continent, really, the national liberation struggles.
                  It forms out of different leftist organizations that
                  actually were participating in the efforts to return
                  to democracy in the early—the late '70s and early
                  ’80s. And they form an alternative guerrilla movement
                  to what is the better known, the Shining Path, which
                  had emerged publicly in 1980. And it was a small
                  organization, very similar to the organizations I am
                  more familiar with in Central America. And when I got
                  to Peru, I understood, in the case of the <span
                    class="caps">MRTA</span>, they were also—it's an
                  organization—at the time that I got there, there was
                  nothing—no armed activities going on. And it was also
                  an organization that seemed to be looking for a way
                  out.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> It was
                  deemed a terrorist organization by Peru?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> Well,
                  everything was called terrorism in Peru.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> As well as
                  the Shining Path.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> Yes, it
                  was. Yes.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> And by the
                  United States.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> At the
                  time, I presume so. There wasn’t a terrorist list. The
                  terrorist list came out, I believe, in '98, if I'm not
                  mistaken. But at the time of my arrival in Peru, it
                  was not on any formal list.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> What was it
                  about the <span class="caps">MRTA</span> that you
                  were drawn to, that got you involved?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> They were
                  very similar to the organizations I had been familiar
                  with in Central America. But more than that, it was my
                  sense that they were in a very difficult situation, a
                  lot of people in prison, and they were looking for a
                  way out.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> What do you
                  mean, "a way out"?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> A way
                  out—you know, in El Salvador, there was a peace
                  process. In other countries, there—in Guatemala, there
                  was a peace process, that, you know, there are moments
                  in which you say, "OK, so how do we resolve the
                  situation?" And it was a situation of dictatorship. So
                  what do you do when you have an autocratic—or you want
                  to call it dictator or autocratic government, that was
                  not at all democratic? So, it wasn’t as if you could
                  say, "Hey, we want to lay down our weapons and give
                  ourselves in." I think they were looking for a way to
                  do that, to some—to some extent. I just—I didn’t
                  realize it until after the embassy takeover, analyzing
                  that, that that was how they were planning to find a
                  way out, because when they took over the embassy, one
                  of the things they talked about was national dialogue.
                  You know, it was a way—I see it—you know, in
                  retrospect, I think they were—that was the way out
                  they were looking at.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> Explain the
                  government at the time.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> So, in
                  1990—well, Alberto Fujimori wins the elections of 1990
                  and applies shock—a shock program, you know, and
                  applies a lot of dirty war tactics. There was a lot of
                  intelligence used to carry out disappearances, in very
                  selective disappearances, but, you know, talking about
                  thousands of people were killed, and—during that
                  period. And in 1992, he has a self-coup, where he
                  closes Congress, he closes—restrictions on the press.
                  It’s a series of, you know, lack of rights to protest.
                  And that is the Peru I knew. So by the time I had
                  gotten there, they had opened what they called—was
                  it—the <span class="caps">CCD</span>. It was a—some
                  form of congress. It was not the form that had always
                  existed, but it was whatever they—whatever he’s
                  invent—whatever he invented. And there were elections;
                  however, it was still within the framework of a
                  constitution that was not—you know, it was a
                  neoliberalism, and it was not exactly democracy.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> So let’s go
                  back to November 30th, 1995. There are many people who
                  are watching right now who were not even born then.
                  So, talk about what happened, why you were arrested
                  and what happened to you.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> OK, well,
                  on that day, I was actually—in that time, I was doing
                  some work in—as a journalist, and I was—I had gone to
                  Congress. I was following a series of debates,
                  actually a very important debate on narco houses or
                  something, and I left—walking down the street, took a
                  bus, and I was pulled off the bus and shoved into a
                  car.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> By?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong>
                  Un-uniformed policemen. And I was taken to a large
                  office, which I later learned was the intelligence
                  police office in [inaudible]—</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> The <span
                    class="caps">DINET</span>?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> That was
                  the <span class="caps">DINCOTE</span>. And I was—from
                  there, I was taken to the house which I had helped
                  rent a time earlier. And the shootout started. I was
                  there all night when they were shooting—during the
                  shootout, but I was in the police car.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> The police
                  held you in the car as a shootout took place—</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> Oh, yeah.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> —between the
                  police and the MRTA—</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> Yes, I was
                  there. Yes, uh-huh.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> —at the
                  house that you had rented.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> And then I
                  was—after that, I was detained. I was tried by a
                  hooded military tribunal—that is, you know, not faced.
                  Very limited access to legal protection. Lawyers were
                  allowed in. They didn’t have access to the files.
                  Statements were made under duress. There was a wounded
                  woman who was forced to declare in a very difficult
                  state. So, it was a difficult situation for all of
                  those who were detained at the time. We were about
                  20-some-odd people at that time. And then I was
                  sentenced to life in prison as a leader of the <span
                    class="caps">MRTA</span>, which the—basically, the
                  figure in—to be tried by a military tribunal was that
                  if you weren’t detained in combat, then in order—you
                  had to be a leader to be tried by a military tribunal.
                  So they decided to call me a leader. So that was
                  interesting.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> When you
                  were brought out to the press is this is the image
                  Peruvians have of you, and anyone in the rest of the
                  world, for the next few decades.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> Yes.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> Explain what
                  you were told as you were brought out to the press.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> OK, I was
                  told that there was no microphone and that if I wanted
                  to be heard, I had to raise my voice. And I guess at
                  the time I didn’t think of the consequences. I mean, I
                  think if I had said the same thing without looking
                  angry saying it, they wouldn’t have been able to use
                  it. But, you know, it’s the use of images. You take
                  images from below, towards—above, people look very
                  big. And you can always catch an image when someone
                  has their mouth open. So, you know, having the mouth
                  open is enough. Regardless of even if I spoke
                  silently, you know, very quietly, if I had my mouth
                  open, that would have been enough. But they were able
                  to use that image for—’til now.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> And you were
                  told you had a very small amount of time, like a
                  minute, to say whatever you needed to say?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> I believe
                  so. I don’t remember that exactly.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> What did you
                  say?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> I said—</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> And you had
                  to speak in Spanish, of course.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> OK. Well, I
                  said that the <span class="caps">MRTA</span> wasn’t
                  a—I didn’t think it was a terrorist organization. And
                  I said that it was—if they existed, it was because
                  there was a lot of injustice in the country, and
                  saying basically that if I was going to have to pay
                  for that, I would. And that’s what I did.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> So, you were
                  tried. Explain what this courtroom was like. What does
                  it mean to be tried before a hooded judge?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> I don’t
                  know if ours was similar to—I know of other cases that
                  were actually rather different, but it was basically a
                  three-phase trial. The first phase was you were
                  interrogated by the police, and then at some point the
                  military started intervening. It was very difficult to
                  tell which was the difference at the time. You know,
                  these are things that I might have seen differently if
                  I had known more. But after that—that was the first
                  phase—we were sentenced. We were all put in a room
                  with hooded judges and hooded—surrounded by soldiers.
                  We were given the sentences. And then we were given
                  two—I believe two appeal trials in these rooms with
                  distorted—I think one was in front of a judge, but
                  there was—they tended to use these rooms with like
                  distorted sound, so you’d be looking at a mirror. It
                  was just sort of unusual to have distorted sound and
                  images. And I think they filmed. And by the third, you
                  know, sentence, they confirmed the life sentence. They
                  changed some of the charges along the way, if I’m not
                  mistaken. But it was—it was all preposterous. It was
                  based really on I’m not sure what—a lot of
                  imagination.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> And what did
                  they charge you with, and what were you convicted of?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> It was
                  treason. I don’t really remember—as I said, I was
                  first convicted of being a leader of the <span
                    class="caps">MRTA</span>, so I don’t remember the
                  exact charges. But they were—it was a long—it was a
                  laundry list.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> I wanted to
                  go back for one moment to the time that I <a
href="http://www.democracynow.org/2000/9/6/exclusive_lori_berenson_speaks">interviewed
                    you in the Socabaya prison</a>. This was back in
                  1999.</p>
                <blockquote>
                </blockquote>
                <blockquote>
                  <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                        class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> Did they
                    present any evidence at the trial?</p>
                </blockquote>
                <blockquote>
                  <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                        class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> No. In
                    the actual trial? No, absolutely nothing.</p>
                </blockquote>
                <blockquote>
                  <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                        class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> Are you
                    innocent of the charges?</p>
                </blockquote>
                <blockquote>
                  <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                        class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> Yes, of
                    the charges. Yes, I’m innocent of all the charges
                    they’ve made against me.</p>
                </blockquote>
                <blockquote>
                  <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                        class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> Which
                    brings us to the U.S. and what the U.S. is doing
                    here around your case, the U.S. government. What is
                    the U.S. doing? Are they helping you?</p>
                </blockquote>
                <blockquote>
                  <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                        class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> There has
                    been some pressure at certain times, but not heavy
                    pressure. Not heavy enough pressure, at least,
                    because I’m still here.</p>
                </blockquote>
                <blockquote>
                  <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                        class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> Do you
                    think if they did put pressure, you wouldn’t be
                    here? I mean, the U.S. administration?</p>
                </blockquote>
                <blockquote>
                  <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                        class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> I mean, I
                    think, in the sense of more than the Congress in
                    itself. I mean, all the military aid they give them
                    and that kind of support and the patting on the back
                    of Fujimori every time that he does anything. I
                    think he feels like he’s fine.</p>
                </blockquote>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> That was
                  1999. Can you describe that time in the Socabaya
                  prison? You had been there—you had been imprisoned at
                  that point for like three years, first at Yanamayo and
                  then at the Socabaya prison.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> The thing
                  with Socabaya, I think, if I’m not mistaken, the
                  interview was when I was still in isolation, so I
                  think it was difficult because I wasn’t allowed to
                  talk to anyone. It was—you know, in that sense, it
                  was—you know, we weren’t allowed access to the media.
                  We weren’t allowed access to information. It was a
                  very isolating experience. That is what I most
                  remember about Socabaya, was that aspect.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> And to
                  people—of course, there have been millions of people
                  imprisoned in the United States. But you now were
                  imprisoned for about 15 years.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> Mm-hmm.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> Can you talk
                  to an American audience about what that experience
                  meant?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> Well, I
                  think it’s important, particularly in the United
                  States, but it’s also important in Peru, the issue of
                  prisons as a space of justice or as a space of
                  punishment. I think we’d have a much healthier society
                  if we used imprisonment sparingly, just so that people
                  could learn from imprisonment and become—have an
                  opportunity to become—to do something else or to
                  learn—to learn to become productive—have the
                  opportunity to be productive citizens. Unfortunately,
                  in the United States and elsewhere, prisons are
                  disproportionately—disproportionately with people of
                  lower socioeconomic status. There’s race and class
                  involved. It’s an issue in which you just see—it’s
                  like social—it’s social struggle on lines. You know,
                  there are a lot of kids who get into gangs because
                  that’s the only option they see. And those kids could
                  do other things if they had other options. So prisons
                  could be a space in which that could happen. Or what
                  usually happens is they just get thrown in, they get
                  tortured, they get beat up on, and they—basically, if
                  they’re not killed there, they’re not really—they
                  don’t really have a chance. So when they get out, they
                  don’t have a chance. So I don’t—what kind of world do
                  we live in, in which we exclude people instead of
                  trying to find ways to include them? I mean, you know,
                  and so that happens—happens here, happens in Peru.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> Dennis Jett
                  is quoted as saying—he was the ambassador—</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> Mm-hmm,
                  yes.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> —to Peru at
                  the time—"What leverage do we have over Peru?" he
                  asked. "I think this is a colonial, somewhat-racist
                  mentality that these countries are always wrong, and
                  all we have to do is apply pressure on any
                  underdeveloped country." He said, "There is no way
                  anyone can look at her story," referring to you, "and
                  conclude anything other than she knowingly, willingly
                  and enthusiastically worked for a terrorist
                  organization." That quote from just last week.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> Mm-hmm.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> The
                  ambassador at the time of your arrest in Peru.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> Mm-hmm.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> Your
                  response?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> Well, you
                  know, he has been very consistent in his responses on
                  this. I do not agree with him. I do not think there
                  was overwhelming proof of anything that he says. But
                  look, that’s his political position. It was not the
                  position—not everyone was patting Fujimori on the
                  back. He was. Not every—not all the ambassadors in
                  Peru were doing that.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> Ambassador
                  Jett also demanded I be fired for having interviewed
                  you in the prison. But your evaluation of Amnesty
                  International saying something like 53 percent of the
                  violence in the ’80s could be attributed to the
                  Peruvian government, 46 percent of the killing to
                  Shining Path, 1 percent to the <span class="caps">MRTA</span>?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> That’s—the
                  Truth Commission came up with similar statistics. I
                  think it’s really hard, because, first of all, I think
                  the Truth Commission was developed as to start a
                  process of memory and not to be the only thing that
                  would come out, and it like closed the book. So, you
                  know, their conclusion was actually that the Shining
                  Path had committed 54 percent, and something like 35
                  percent to the state and 10 percent unknown, 1.5
                  percent to the <span class="caps">MRTA</span>, which
                  seems a bit high, but that’s—it could be. I don’t
                  know. I do think that if—you know, the problems with
                  understanding what happens also depends on how and
                  when you ask it. If you go to a community in which the
                  military is still there, it’s highly probable they
                  will not say the military did it. So, you know, those
                  types of things, I think, will always be a problem
                  when looking for truth. But I’m sure—you know, there
                  have been horrific things have happened in Peru. And I
                  think that’s why I say take responsibility for having
                  collaborated with an organization that has committed
                  crimes. I think that is—and that’s why I was in
                  prison. So I think, you know, yes, it was secondary
                  collaboration, I wasn’t involved in any specific act,
                  but, yes, I do—I do take my responsibility. And I
                  think those—at least in the case of the <span
                    class="caps">MRTA</span>, all the leadership has
                  taken responsibility for their acts. They are—that’s
                  because it’s necessary. You know, that’s how—it’s like
                  I said. It’s unfortunate that that is not happening on
                  all sides.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> I want to
                  play a clip of your mother, Rhoda Berenson, and your
                  father, Mark Berenson.</p>
                <blockquote>
                </blockquote>
                <blockquote>
                  <p><strong><span class="caps">RHODA</span> <span
                        class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> We’re
                    asking everybody to remind President Bush what he
                    said in March and to remind him he’s under an
                    obligation: If a U.S. citizen is wrongfully held in
                    another country, there’s a U.S. statute that says he
                    must do everything in his power to release her. And
                    the commission has essentially said Lori Berenson is
                    wrongfully held.</p>
                </blockquote>
                <blockquote>
                  <p><strong><span class="caps">MARK</span> <span
                        class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> And this
                    commission consists of seven respected
                    internationally legal scholars and human rights
                    scholars from seven different countries. President
                    Bush, Lori is wrongfully held. It’s time now to show
                    backbone and strength, and have the moral courage to
                    do the right thing. If Ambassador Negroponte said a
                    week ago that America takes care of its own, Lori
                    Berenson is one of your own. She has suffered. She
                    has been wronged. You know it. Secretary Powell
                    knows it. Every person in this country of goodwill
                    and understanding knows Lori Berenson has been
                    wronged, and it’s time to bring her home.</p>
                </blockquote>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> What did
                  that mean to you, the way your parents rallied around
                  not only you, but rallied support in the United
                  States, not only for your—around your imprisonment,
                  but for the condition of people in Peru?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> I mean, I
                  was very surprised. I just wasn’t—you know, I don’t
                  come from a very political family. I didn’t expect
                  their dedication. And to some extent, it was—I felt—I
                  felt very badly for it. I still do, to a good extent.
                  But I’m very grateful for it. They did an amazing—had
                  amazing effort, despite the fact we didn’t have great
                  communication. I think it was very difficult the first
                  years for them, because they didn’t have access to a
                  lot of information. They didn’t know what was really
                  happening. And that made it—so, some of the confusions
                  perhaps in the way they interpreted things has to do
                  with the lack of communication. So I think
                  they—despite that, they did an amazing—an amazing
                  thing.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> It’s 20
                  years later. You have been in Peru, basically—I don’t
                  know if you call it under house arrest, but you
                  were—you were not allowed to leave Peru from 2010
                  until now. And now you were just allowed to leave.
                  Would you do things the same way, if we went back 20
                  years, but you know what you know now?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> Yes and no.
                  I mean, when I go back to thinking like about
                  education, if I had learned another skills, I might
                  have been able to do some of the work I—maybe
                  different types of work directly with populations,
                  that would have made my life very different. In that
                  sense, I think I would have chosen to learn a little
                  more before going to do things, you know, learn a
                  skill that would have been more useful. But in terms
                  of doing it, I can’t go—I can’t deny my life. My life
                  is what it was, or what it is. And I—I mean, yes,
                  there are things that when I reflect upon what
                  happened and say, you know, I—and that’s part of the
                  reason why I take responsibility for my actions, and I
                  apologize, because it’s like I do acknowledge that
                  whether or not I am directly responsible for certain
                  actions, there was horrific bloodshed in Peru, and I
                  am very sorry it happened. So, in that sense,
                  understanding how—if I had known I was going to come
                  and symbolize that, I might have thought twice before
                  speaking, because, you know, it’s hard to symbolize
                  horror. But on the other hands, it’s like, you know, I
                  wasn’t—the objectives of—certainly my own objectives
                  and others’ objectives were not to create horrific
                  bloodshed, either. They were—you know, they were to
                  achieve a more just society. And like I said, I think
                  it’s important that those who have been involved on
                  any side take responsibility for what they have done.
                  And most—you know, certainly on the side of the left,
                  people paid, been in prison for a long time, and some
                  are still there, whereas in the case of the government
                  forces, they continue to live in entire, total
                  impunity.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> Although,
                  interestingly, Alberto Fujimori, the president of
                  Peru, is in jail. He used to wave your passport and
                  say "feminista terrorista."</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> I didn’t
                  know that.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> He would
                  carry it with him.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> Yeah.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> But he ends
                  up in jail.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> No, that is
                  a bit ironic, yes.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                      class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> So, let’s
                  end with the issue of memory, something you’re very
                  interested in, as you move forward in this country.
                  What does it mean to you? And what does acknowledgment
                  and understanding the past—what do you think has to
                  happen?</p>
              </blockquote>
              <blockquote>
                <p><strong><span class="caps">LORI</span> <span
                      class="caps">BERENSON</span>:</strong> Well, I
                  think in any country, and this includes the U.S., if
                  we deny that things happened or try to paint it over
                  as if it wasn’t that way, then the problems are more
                  likely to either recur or at least just continue to be
                  problems. If you start acknowledging them and say,
                  "Hey, let’s get a handle on this. We’ve got to see
                  where our—what the cause"—you know, the root cause of
                  violence in Peru, it has to do with structural
                  violence. I mean, you know, regardless of whoever
                  started first—it’s not who started first. It’s like
                  why on Earth would something—would the violence have
                  been so extreme, had there not been the type of
                  structural violence that existed in Peru? It was
                  semi-feudal, in many ways, its production, but not
                  just production. It has to do with the social system
                  or racism, of exclusion, that existed into the 20th
                  century. So, you know, that’s not unique to Peru, but
                  I think in—I think what is told for—you know, should
                  be told in general in the world is that, you know,
                  it’s better if you look—if you look at things, you
                  know, try to sit back and take a look at them, I think
                  you could do much more than putting labels. When you
                  put labels on people, you’re saying it’s the us-them.
                  And when you say us-them, it’s dangerous, because it
                  makes you think that you’re somehow superior to a
                  them. And I think that’s one of the things that I
                  really think came out in Peru, particularly in the
                  case of my case and other people, is like you want the
                  "them" label, because you can sort of—all of your
                  guilt, you can sort of transfer to other people. And
                  it’s like, that’s not useful. And you wind up
                  having—you know, violence can escalate. It
                  doesn’t—it’s not productive, doesn’t lead to anything.</p>
              </blockquote>
              <p><strong><span class="caps">AMY</span> <span
                    class="caps">GOODMAN</span>:</strong> That’s Lori
                Berenson, the once-imprisoned U.S. activist, home now
                after spending nearly two decades in prison and on
                parole in Peru. To see our <a
                  href="http://www.democracynow.org/topics/lori_berenson">coverage
                  of Lori</a> over the years, go to democracynow.org.</p>
            </div>
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