New Yorker imprisoned in Peru gives birth to boy

By ANDREW WHALEN

Associated Press Writer

LIMA, Peru (AP) — New York native Lori Berenson gave birth Wednesday to a baby boy in Peru where she is serving a 20-year sentence for collaborating with leftist guerrillas in the 1990s, her father said.

The baby, Salvador Anespori Apari Berenson, was delivered by cesarean section in a civilian hospital in Lima. The boy's father is a former member of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement whom Berenson met in jail and married in 2003.

"I'm just ecstatic. This child will likely be my only grandchild and I'm going to spoil him if I can," father Mark Berenson, a former college professor, told the Associated Press.

Lori Berenson, a 39-year-old former Massachusetts Institute of Technology student, was arrested in 1995 and sentenced to life in prison by a military court the following year. A civilian court retried her in 2000, convicting her of the lesser crime of terrorist collaboration and reducing her sentence.

She denies any wrongdoing and maintains she is a political prisoner.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the legal arm of the Organization of American States, upheld the civilian court's ruling in 2004, closing Berenson's last avenue to formally appeal her sentence.

Berenson is eligible for parole in November 2010. Peruvian law permits Berenson to raise the child in prison until age three.

The child will have dual U.S. and Peruvian citizenship. According to her sentence, Lori will be expelled from Peru upon release.

The father, Anibal Apari, was released from prison in 2003 and is now a lawyer in Lima.

The baby was delivered by cesarean because the pregnancy exacerbated Berenson's back problems. Doctors say she has degenerative arthritis of the spine and will require surgery.

The Cuban-inspired Tupac Amaru guerrillas — best known for their four-month takeover of the Japanese ambassador's residence in 1996 in Lima — and the larger Shining Path rebel group plunged Peru into chaos in the 1980s and early 1990s.

But unlike the bloodier, Maoist-inspired Shining Path, which was known for wholesale massacres, the Tupac Amaru cultivated a Robin Hood image, distributing food from hijacked trucks in poor neighborhoods.