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Lori Berenson: Still a political prisoner, having a baby.

May 25, 2010 Update: Lori Berenson granted parole! Story with links at onthewilderside: here.

__________________________

Lori Berenson is an American who has been in jail in Peru as a political prisoner for many years. Things had been quiet with Lori’s situation for awhile. Now, her parents bring interesting and hopeful news. Stay tuned to www.freelori.org for ways to help. On a personal note, it was heartwarming that our dear friend Susan June Blake from PeaceSmiths was among the activists that the Berenson’s thanked in their letter.

December 31, 2008

To Friends and Supporters of Lori Berenson

END-OF-YEAR MESSAGE FROM MARK AND RHODA

Another year has elapsed and Lori is now in her 14th year of wrongful incarceration.  Despite this, and the global economic crisis that affects us all, there is some good news to report.

Lori informed us in mid September that she is pregnant.  She was so elated – and we, of course, were thrilled over news we never anticipated hearing.  Lori has always loved children and, at age 39, this is her first pregnancy.   For the past three months she has been busy reading about pregnancy, childbirth and childcare.  We are now excitedly busy knitting – Mark a blanket, Rhoda a matching sweater, cap and booties.

In Peru, mothers are able to keep their babies with them in prison until age three.  Lori’s parole date is scheduled for November 2010, when the child will be 18 months old.  Of course, we hope she is released sooner.

Unfortunately, Lori’s health remains delicate due to the very harsh conditions she endured during the early years of her incarceration.  In July an MRI confirmed that Lori needed back surgery for a disk problem that, without proper medical treatment, could result in permanent damage.  The plans for back surgery have now been postponed until after the birth of her child.  Because of her medical situation, Lori is awaiting transfer to a prison in Lima where she will be able to coordinate her prenatal care with the care for her back.

We are hopeful that the Obama administration will make the needed foreign policy changes that will restore the image of the United States to the citizens of Latin America and around the globe.  And in this light, we hope that renewed and even improved bilateral relations between the US and Peru will result in Lori’s release on humanitarian grounds.

We are now in the process of updating the www.freelori.org website.  It will include new suggested letters to the Obama administration and members of Congress as well as other new material.  We will keep you informed as these updates are completed.  We know Lori has prepared an “end-of-year statement” that we will be posting but we won’t receive it until our next visit to Peru in mid-January.

We close this message with some sad reflections.  In 2008 we learned of the passing of five individuals who truly cared about Lori, about us, and about human rights – long-time activists and champions of peace and social justice Bob Menard, Susan Blake, Don White and Paul Warsett.  Lori is saddened that she never had the opportunity to meet them and personally thank them.

Once again, thank you for your continued support through all these years.  May 2009 be one of health and happiness for you and your loved ones and may 2009 be a year of peace.

Mark and Rhoda B.

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