AREQUIPA, Peru (Reuters) - A U.S. woman serving a life sentence on
charges she belonged to a Peruvian guerrilla group said Saturday her
conditions were no better after being transferred from a notorious guerrilla
Lori Berenson, in jail in Peru since 1996, dictated a statement to her
parents in which she complained about her solitary confinement at her new
jail and said it was no better than the dingy, high-altitude Yanamayo prison
which rights groups have called sub-human.
"I cannot understand why I am here unless it was a move to demonstrate
improvement in human rights. But then why have they thrown me in a cage
and isolated me from the world?" Rhoda Berenson quoted her daughter as
Rhoda and Mark Berenson, both university professors from New York,
talked to their ill daughter on their first visit since she was transferred two
weeks ago to the lower-lying Socabaya prison, outside the southern city of
She was first sent to Yanamayo after being convicted by an anonymous
military judge in 1996 of helping Tupac Amaru leftist rebels plan a thwarted
assault on Peru's Congress. She has denied being a member of the group.
To make her imprisonment more tolerable, the Berensons bought Chinese
food, her daughter's favorite meal, at a take-out shop in New York and
froze it for the trip.
"Because there are no cooking facilities, Lori will leave the food to thaw
the sun of the prison courtyard and then eat it -- cold," her father said.
Her parents received gifts, permitted by prison rules, of a knitted sweater
and locally-made chocolates from their daughter.
Berenson is not allowed to hand out written statements during visits but
parents said they were able to copy down her answers to questions formed
by Reuters. In an interview after the visit, they also quoted parts of their
hour-long conversation with their daughter about her conditions.
Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited