Lori Berenson at Middle Age
Outraged at injustice and inhumanity, the young, naive Lori Berenson made a comment in fluent Spanish to the Peruvian press that would change her forever. She became seen as a despicable, self-important gringa. Her father said, “Forty-four seconds, and it ruined her life. It doesn’t take much.”
". . . . She spent the prior four days in a rat-ridden cell with a woman who had five gunshot wounds; Berenson was strung out and sleepless. . . ."
She saw "such inhumanity, particularly in the case of the people who were wounded. And thinking that no one would ever hear about it [she] just said, 'Well, I know someone will listen to me if I say something. That was the most naïve and stupid thing I did, was thinking that by saying that, it would be helpful.' " . . . .
What if she had just "cowered, rather than shouted, before the press, or betrayed even a modicum of the panic and despair most people would have felt in such circumstances"? Not Lori. Those close to her know "she would never expose herself in that way." But when they sentenced her to life she says that she "started cracking up.” . . .
As a parent, you watch as “your bright, adventurous child goes off, and you have to be supportive, of course, but what kind of things are going to happen to change their lives?" . . .
Affectionately remembering Lori, her ex-husband heard her forty-four seconds with the press and thought "Well, now she’s sunk" and that "it was courageous, a bit ingenuous.” . . .
Released from behind bars she found that "'the world ha[d] changed.' . . . 'Internet, giant malls.' . . . at 41, she is still grappling with the fallout of youthful choices that have ended badly: her vocation; her marriage; her love of Latin America. The passion that fueled her move there seems to have left a kind of void, and beyond the need to support herself and her son, her future remains a blank." . . . .
On parole, she pushes her child in a stroller along the sidewalk. Peruvian women hiss at her, say she belongs behind bars. Her 20-year sentence is due to be completed on November 29, 2015, when she will be permitted to leave Peru permanently. More