President Alan Garcia says he doesn't consider Lori Berenson a threat to Peru, suggesting he may be inclined to commute the New Yorker's accomplice-to-terrorism sentence so she can go home.While Garcia is barred from running for re-election next year, he has shown interest in running again in 2016. He is only 59. I am sure that he is wondering how a Berenson commutation would effect his chances in 2016. That could be a scary election - Garcia vs. Fujimori.
A three-judge panel returned the 40-year-old Berenson and her toddler son to prison on Aug. 18 after prosecutors objected to her May parole, calling her a danger to society.
Garcia said in an interview with CNN broadcast Tuesday night that while he understands many Peruvians feel Berenson should complete her 20-year term, he personally has sympathy for the activist and her 16-month-old son, Salvador.
"How much can Peru really fear a woman who spent 15 years in prison?" Garcia said. "She has a little boy, and that moves me a lot."
She "is not a threat to Peru. That's over. It's part of the past," he added.
In a response to a question about the case's political sensitivity in Peru, Garcia noted that he has the power to commute Berenson's sentence and expel her and mentioned three factors that, to his mind, argue for clemency.
In addition to his belief that Berenson is not a threat and his feelings of compassion for mother and child, Garcia said that relations with Washington and U.S. public opinion must be weighed as well as the ordeal's effect on Berenson's parents.
Some are worried that Alberto Fujimori will be released from jail because of a recent law passed in Peru that says that the international convention on crimes against humanity came into effect in 2003, years after Fujimori's crimes. I'm not sure how likely this is. He has several corruption charges as well. He's committed enough crimes so that even if you dropped those related to crimes against humanity, there should be enough to keep him in jail for several years.
On the other hand, his daughter might be elected president next year.