Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Roman Circus in Peru - The Persecution of Lori Berenson

August 26, 2010



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order of parole was revoked by consent of the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 applied.

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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