It hasn’t gotten much attention, given the terrorism in San Bernardino, but darling-of-the-left Lori Berenson was allowed to leave Peru, after serving a 20-year prison sentence of 15 years behind bars and five years’ parole for “collaborating with terrorism” in the 1990s.
Her foolish statements and the media’s coddling of her put her on a parallel with what must be one of her heroes, Bill Ayers, who smugly defended his terrorist bombings in an interview with the New York Times that ran on 9/11.
See, way back in 1992, a starry-eyed young leftist MIT student, decided to quit school to get a job as a secretary for El Salvador’s Cuba-sponsored communist guerrillas, who were at the time terrorizing the Salvadoran countryside with murder and mayhem. The Castro-sponsored terror campaign provoked a tremendous pushback that ended up as a civil war. She was a romantic “Sandalista” with a taste for violence and when that job got boring, she moved on to new leftist guerrillas, Peru’s Tupac Amaru Liberation Movement, which engaged in its own campaign of murder, kidnappings and terror, in the name of imposing communism on an unwilling population. They murdered a Peruvian general but otherwise tended to kill poor foot soldiers, policemen and Indian peasants. When Berenson was caught, she was running an ammo dump that she still claims she knew nothing about and was using phony press credentials to help her guerrilla-fighter buddies scope out the country’s legislature in order to take its members hostage.
Found guilty, she was sentenced to 20 years and went out in a hail of fist-waving sloganeering, which supposedly added years to her term. Tupac Amaru’s brightest moment of fame came was when it took over the Japanese Embassy in 1997 and held nearly a hundred hostages for four months with the demand that Berenson and others be freed. Peru’s counterterror cops managed to tunnel under a part of the compound where the terrorists were playing an impromptu soccer game, and blew them all up and shot some of the survivors. It was a horrific ordeal, and in Peru’s Museum of Memory, there is a huge photo display and videos documenting the terror of the hostages in the atrocity.
But despite her willingness to use press credentials to enable acts of terrorism — something that endangers every journalist out there — Berenson has gotten fawning coverage from the mainstream media, which has written about how Berenson has mellowed in prison, had a child with a guerrilla fighter, worked as a prison baker, and only cared about “social justice.” Never mind the blood on the streets of Lima in the background, here was one of the media’s cossetted own, the daughter of East Coast university professors, their sort of people.
After 20 years, has she changed a bit? Not based on her media statements.
She still refuses to admit that the group she was with was terrorist at all. The media report that Tupac Amaru was responsible for only 1.5% of the Peruvians killed in the Peruvian terror war. That’s fine and dandy, until you realize that 70,000 people died in that war — bringing Tupac Amaru’s part of the grisly tally to 1,050 people. Terrorism? She conceded terrorist tactics but said: “I don’t think the label fits.”
But if you ask that of a Peruvian, you get a different answer. And it’s little wonder that Peruvians still can’t stand her. Does Berenson feel a twinge of regret? Not in the least. The catcalls she gets are “incredibly surreal but totally typical,” she told the Associated Press. She blamed the country’s ruling elites for the local sentiment — when the reality is that Peru’s guerrilla sympathizers have always been Peru’s children of the elite, who attend left-wing universities, as the Museum of Memory shows in its photos.
The Museum also shows that the victims of terror were virtually all Indians and poor people — black and mixed-race people in shantytowns, people displaced from the countryside, people burned out of their homes and running from bombs with pitiful sacks of belongings while hanging onto their kids.
And incidentally,the other terrorists often began by hanging people’s pets — dogs and cats — from lamp poles. I can’t make a detail like that up — it was there in the museum, underlining the psychopathic malice of the terror movements that plagued Peru and that Berenson was so attracted to.
At the museum, there were people crying at various memorials — and when I spoke with an Indian bead seller in a Lima park about the war (he was part of the Ashaninka people, and wore its native dress), he began to weep.
Peruvians have sought to make that known, although the press hasn’t reported it. Twitter is awash with fury at Berenson’s release, and a newspaper publisher, from Diario Altavoz , wrote a furious memo to the Associated Press for its unquestioning coverage and published it as an editorial. El Nuevo Herald ran it, but only in Spanish. The Peruvians must have known it would be that way and had it professionally translated into English — to make sure everyone sees it. It’s a magnificent blast at terrorists and their media coddlers. Go, Peru!
View more information: https://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/20-years-in-a-peruvian-prison-and-nothing-learned-by-lori-berenson/