She's an activist. The alternate reality of the media really is something to behold. Mainstream Americans of right-of-center persuasion are typically maligned as frothing "extremists" while actual terrorists are known as activists. And they wonder why people hold them in such contempt. At least the Peruvian people know a terrorist when they see one.
Activist Lori Berenson walked out of prison smiling Thursday but got a chilly reception from her new neighbors after serving three-quarters of a 20-year sentence for aiding leftist rebels.If she's recognized her errors, then why is she going to work for a far-left, America-hating group?
Now 40, the New Yorker spent more than a third of her life behind bars — getting married, giving birth, undergoing back surgery — but never denouncing the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement she was convicted of abetting.
When she was arrested in November 1995 with the wife of the group's leader, prosecutors said Berenson was helping it plot a takeover of Peru's Congress that never happened. The following month, police found a forged ID card bearing her photo in a raid on a rebel safe house.
But Berenson apparently became less strident over the years, many of them spent in frigid prisons in the high Andes. Documents her defense team provided to the judge who granted her parole Tuesday said Berenson had "recognized she committed errors" getting involved with the rebels.
A year after Berenson's arrest, the Tupac Amaru gained notoriety when 13 of its members stormed the Japanese ambassador's residents and seized hostages. Among their demands was Berenson's release. The standoff ended 126 days later with all the rebels killed.No doubt when this maggot returns to America she'll be feted on the talk-show and lecture circuits and will be eagerly courted by publishers.
Berenson's release Thursday from Santa Monica women's prison was a tempest in itself. She squeezed through a horde of reporters into a car driven by her husband and attorney, Anibal Apari, to be driven to the Lima apartment where she is to reside.
Two Peruvian reporters jumped into the car, which had a minor collision a block away with a TV channel's vehicle.
Their couple's son, Salvador, who has been living with his mother since his birth a year ago, was taken to the apartment separately by Berenson's parents, who flew in from New York City on Wednesday.
The judge who granted Berenson parole said she must stay in Lima until her sentence ends in November 2015. But Peru's justice minister, Victor Garcia, told the Radioprogramas network Thursday that the Cabinet could decide to commute the sentence and expel Berenson.
"This is a really nasty situation for Peruvians," Garcia said, suggesting the government was not necessarily pleased Berenson had been paroled. President Alan Garcia said Tuesday that it was not his place to comment on whether he considered the judge's decision appropriate.
It was unclear whether any other legal problems could complicate Berenson's eventual return to the United States. U.S. Embassy spokesman James Fennell said he could not comment on the case due to privacy laws.
Many Peruvians were unhappy with Berenson's release.
"Go away, terrorist!" shouted 42-year-old Carol Philips as Berenson and Apari pushed their way through a throng of journalists to get into the apartment building in the upscale Miraflores neighborhood where Berenson is to live.
Her parents told The Associated Press they came not just for the joy of their daughter's release but also to help childproof the apartment.
"I don't know whose idea it was to put this terrorist here as a neighbor," said another neighbor, Rene Vela.
Berenson appeared calm, almost bemused, as she sat for some five minutes in the Apari's car outside the apartment. She wore dangling bead earrings, a khaki green button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up and carried a black bag with blue straps.
She did not speak to reporters.
The Miraflores district mayor, Manuel Macias, told reporters Berenson should find a home elsewhere.
"The way out of this perhaps is for her expulsion from the country," he said.
The judge who paroled Berenson said she had "completed re-education, rehabilitation and re-socialization" and demonstrated "positive behavior."
Berenson has long maintained she was a political prisoner and not a terrorist. She shouted to reporters in her first public appearance after her November 1995 arrest: "There are no criminal terrorists in the MRTA. It is a revolutionary movement."
They should have executed her 15 years ago.