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Lori Berenson – “La Gringa Terrorista”

Posted on June 2 2010 9:00 am
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How could it happen that Lori Berenson, a highly intelligent woman, a stellar student, a daughter of two prominent New York City professors, has become a terrorist, convicted by two courts in a faraway country?

But Lori Berenson doesn’t think she is La Gringa Terrorista (A Yankee Terrorist). This 40-year-old former New Yorker was just freed from a Peruvian prison after serving 15 years of her 20-year sentence for terrorist activities as a member of the Tupac Amaru rebel group (MRTA). She still maintains her total innocence.

The Peruvian Times reported in an article published on May 25:

Peruvians still remember Berenson’s Jan. 8, 1996, appearance before television cameras, when she made her now famous declaration in defense of the guerrilla group. With fists clenched at her sides, her face contorted in anger, she shouted: “There are no criminal terrorists in the MRTA. It is a revolutionary movement.”

Associated Press recounted on May 27:

Lori Berenson dropped out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1989 to pursue a passion for social justice. After a time in Central America – she worked as confidential secretary to El Salvador’s top rebel commander – she traveled to Peru in 1994.

When she was arrested in November 1995, prosecutors said Berenson was helping plot a takeover of Peru’s Congress. The alleged plot was thwarted in a gun battle at a rebel hideout that Berenson was convicted of having rented.

A year after her arrest, the Tupac Amaru gained notoriety when 13 of its members stormed the Japanese ambassador’s residence and seized hostages. Among their demands was Berenson’s release. The standoff ended 126 days later with all the rebels killed.

I vividly remember that in 1995, when I first read the news about Berenson’s terrorist “exploits” and her arrest, I felt dumbfounded. I asked myself the same question that I am now asking readers at the beginning of this article: how could this startling transmutation of a lawful American citizen into a violent Peruvian guerilla happen?  And the same perplexing question appeared in my mind a couple of days ago, when I first read about the end of her dramatic saga.

Surprisingly, I found the right answer to this question in an old article published by the left-leaning New York Observer on September 17, 2000. In that piece, an erstwhile friend of Berenson’s, Daniel Radosh, made this revealing statement:

She’s street smart, worldwise, educated. She’s a real New Yorker, a New York kid. Her politics didn’t grow out of rebellion, they grew out of solid New York City liberalism.

So, that was the core reason for the Lori Berenson’s conversion – the so-called “solid liberalism”, the siren song of the Leftist ideology!

The conservative writer, Jonah Goldberg, in his bestseller Liberal Fascism, shows convincingly that the 20th century bloody totalitarian ideologies of  German Nazism, Italian Fascism, and Soviet Marxism traced their origins to the same common parent – the ideology of the Left that worships the all-inclusive power of the state.

Fortunately, I didn’t live under Nazism or Fascism. But unfortunately, I did live for 40 years in the former Soviet Union, experiencing first-hand the life in a Marxist state that embodied in full the Leftist ideas which Lori Berenson had imbibed in her early New York years.

We, the Soviet citizens, were all employees of the state. We lived from hand to mouth on our meager salaries. We waited for 10 long years until that happiest day when the government would give us a one-bedroom apartment. We couldn’t publicly criticize the government or the Communist Party. We could read only Soviet papers and listen only to Soviet radio. We couldn’t travel abroad. The shelves in our stores were mostly empty…

The Marxist regime of the former Soviet Union was guilty of killing millions of its citizens – in mega-starvations of 1921, 1929-1933, and 1948; in forced and violent collectivization of agriculture; in senseless “purges” of 1937 and 1948.

Similar pictures appear in all countries where the Leftist ideologies are dominant – in Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, Vietnam…

If Tupac Amaru rebellion had been successful, the Peruvian society would’ve experienced the grim life in the Leftist “paradise,” for the creation of which the hapless Lori Berenson has sacrificed 15 years of her young life.
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