US Prisoner's 'Freedom' Generates Anger

11 June 2010

US citizen Lori Berenson was granted parole by a judge in Lima at the end of May after serving 15 years of a 20-year sentence for allegedly collaborating with a Marxist rebel group, the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), during Peru’s internal armed conflict during the 1990s. She continues to deny the charges.

According to the terms of her parole, Berenson has to remain in Peru for five years to serve out the remainder of her sentence.

Protesters have gathered outside the building where she currently resides and have demanded she leaves the country. Her release provoked controversy in a country still shocked by a bloody armed conflict that killed up to 70,000 people (1980-2000).

Justice minister Victor García Toma said Lori Berenson has asked for the country’s forgiveness in a letter sent to president Alan García. According to García Toma’s analysis of the situation, he recommends expelling the US citizen immediately. “I don’t think Lori Berenson can create harm for society, but she has created anger among citizens,” he said. If president García does decide to expel Berenson, the US citizen will be forced to leave Peru when she completes her sentence in five years.

Berenson was arrested under former president Alberto Fujimori’s administration, who himself is now in prison after being convicted of human rights crimes last year.

Her release was based on a legislation that was passed in 2003 during the government of former president Alejandro Toledo. The law allows inmates who were charged with terrorism to gain conditional parole when they have completed three-quarters of their sentence.

All news

  • PSG Aims

    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

  • Historical Overview

    Over the past century Peru has suffered a series of autocratic governments and a civil war in which nearly 70,000 people died. Many of the country's ongoing political and social problems are a legacy of its somewhat turbulent past. 

  • Human Rights

    Human rights violations were widespread during the twenty years after the initiation of armed conflict in 1980. Efforts to convict perpetrators since the war's end have made only limited progress. Today, concerns remain over the treatment of those engaged in social protest, particularly against strategically important investment projects.

  • Why join the PSG?

    • Keep up to date with latest news and developments in Peru
    • Learn about key issues of poverty, development and human rights in Peru
    • Support the work of the Peru Support Group

    Become a member