U.S.-Peru Police Collaboration:
The Case of Julian Calero

Revolutionary Worker #922, September 7, 1997 We received this article from the Committee to Support the Revolution in Peru (CSRP).

"....the case of Julian Calero Salazar was meant to be an example of how tough the United States was going to be on `terrorism.' It had nothing to do with internationally recognized definitions of terrorism, of human rights, of political asylum. It was a political move and they thought perhaps that this tiny person from that area of Peru would not have a shred of support.... I think they are disappointed they could not send him back to Peru to help their ally [Fujimori]..."

Gilma Camargo, Attorney,
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)

In June 1996 Julian Calero Salazar, a Peruvian who had lived and worked in Wilmot, Connecticut since 1991, traveled by himself to New York City for what was supposed to be a routine immigration hearing. Calero was requesting political asylum in the U.S. Instead of having his case heard, he was arrested right in the immigration court by U.S. Marshals. He spent the next nine months in an isolated maximum security cell in the Manhattan Correctional Center.

The Fujimori regime in Peru accused Julian Calero of what the U.S. and Peruvian governments call "terrorism"--participation in revolutionary activities associated with the Communist Party of Peru (often called Shining Path). The U.S. authorities worked closely with the Peruvian government in an attempt to get Calero extradited back to Peru--where he would face the Fujimori regime's torture chambers and a draconian trial before hooded military judges.

On February 28, 1997, after nine months in jail, Calero was finally released on $100,000 bail, with the help of the Center for Constitutional Rights, family, supporters and increasing public exposure about the attempt to extradite him. However, on May 1 the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) denied his request for political asylum and ordered him to leave the U.S. by September 1. The INS finally allowed him to go to Denmark where his wife has been living. But if he had not left, he would have been deported back to Peru--even though the immigration court openly admitted that he would probably face arrest, torture, and vicious treatment at the hands of the Fujimori government.

The U.S.-Peru Connection

The relationship between the U.S. and Peru's CIA-run military dictatorship is at the heart of this case. The U.S. is the main backer of the Fujimori regime's efforts to crush the 17-year-long People's War led by the Communist Party of Peru (PCP). Calero testified that he has had no connection to the PCP. He said he had been active in peasant efforts for land rights as early as 1985, and that his family had come under police attack, including torture. International human rights organizations and others have widely reported that the use of torture, death squads, massacres, mass arrest, hooded judges, and life sentences sharply escalated under Fujimori in the early 1990's--when the U.S.-led counterinsurgency against the People's War intensified.

In April 1996 Clinton signed the repressive "Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act." During the very same month, the U.S. led a 22-nation Organization of American States (OAS) conference in Lima, Peru which produced "The Declaration of Lima and the Plan of Action," a hemisphere-wide network of counterinsurgency and political police activity. One of the parallels of the Lima Plan to the new U.S. "counter-terrorism" law is a focused attack against political asylum. In Lima, Fujimori declared, "From now on, American nations do not protect terrorists who seek asylum or refuge by presenting themselves as politically persecuted."

Just a few weeks later, Calero was arrested in New York and put in solitary confinement. If not for the support of the people--including from his home town communities in both Peru and Connecticut--he would have ended up as one of thousands of political prisoners in Peru's dungeons or as a victim of political execution, courtesy of several U.S. government agencies.

Revelations by the State Department

An extraordinary six-page letter from the U.S. State Department to a New York immigration judge hearing Calero's asylum request starkly revealed much about what has happened in this case and why. Dated January 17, 1997, the letter is from the director of the Office of Asylum Affairs which issues recommendations on asylum requests.

First, the letter urged the judge "to enjoin the parties from public discussion of this case"--in other words, to impose a gag order. The justification for this was that the case might have some impact on the takeover of the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima by the MRTA which was going on at the time.

The State Department letter said that the U.S. arrested Calero at the request of the Peruvian government. But the U.S. determined that the "evidence" sent by Peru on alleged murder charges against Calero--the only extraditable offense--was "insufficient." Therefore, "the Justice Department, with concurrence of the State Department" notified the Fujimori regime of "the deficiencies in the evidence explaining how the deficiencies might be addressed, and inviting the Government of Peru to submit supplementary documentation to rectify the problems..."

According to the letter, the Peruvian government complied with this "invitation" on August 19. But again, State and Justice found this "evidence" lacking. So they advised the immigration judge--and "the extradition complaint was dismissed without prejudice on August 23, 1996."

The "evidence" presented during the extradition hearing turned out to be thoroughly discredited testimony--said to be from someone in Peru who claimed that in 1994 an alleged member of the PCP had visited a house in Lima where relatives of Calero resided. Calero, however, had left Peru in 1991! The "supplementary documentation" amounted to a written confession from a man about a 1991 incident. In this written confession, the man allegedly fingered Calero, among others. But the document itself stated clearly that the person writing it had been tortured three times and that the names had been dictated to him by the police. He even named his police torturer in the confession!

Despite the denial of the extradition request on August 23, 1996, the INS still refused to release Calero. When Calero's attorney appeared on Sept. 6 to post bail, she was stalled and told that Calero's record was "gone" and that the INS had secured a stay of Calero's release with the Bureau of Immigration Appeals Court in Virginia. The INS told the immigration judge in NYC that an FBI team was going to Peru and would bring back the goods on Calero's "terrorist" connections. So, it became clear that the U.S. State Department and the FBI were the main ones gathering "evidence" and calling the shots--rather than Peruvian police agencies who were supposedly requesting extradition.

Justifying Torture in the Name of "Counter-Terrorism"

The State Department's January 17 letter spewed out all sorts of vicious lies and slanders about the People's War--and then argued that anyone suspected of supporting "terrorism" should be extradited, despite Peru's secret tribunals and infamous system of torture and slow-death prison conditions.

On the question of "whether Calero Salazar may safely return to Peru," the letter admitted that "Calero would undoubtedly be detained and prosecuted on murder and terrorism charges...might also face charges of treason...tried by one of the `faceless' military tribunals or civilian courts described in the human rights reports." But that's OK, according to State Department, because "while the Peruvian justice system remains seriously flawed, some improvements are underway." The same letter stated earlier that the U.S. Embassy in Peru "acknowledges that torture is still a problem."

This official U.S. State Department letter--and the subsequent denial of Calero's request for political asylum--is nothing less than a self-exposure that the real criminals in this case are the U.S. government and its puppet regime in Peru. In 1992 a U.S. government grant of $16 million helped set up Peru's system of "faceless judges" (U.S. House Subcommittee on Western Affairs, 3/12/92). More than 5,000 Peruvians have been sentenced to the deadly prisons on political charges. The July 1995 report from Human Rights Watch/Americas stated that "not a single person charged with terrorism or treason in Peru since new laws were implemented in 1992 has received a fair trial." Lawyers for political prisoners have been killed, others sentenced to life. According to an Aug. 5, 1996 New York Times article, 500,000 people were arbitrarily detained in a recent 18-month period!

In Calero's case, it was extremely significant that lawyers, people from his community, and others rallied to his defense. It was an important partial victory that the U.S. State Department was forced to back down from its attempts at criminal extradition. But the decision of the INS court--denying political asylum and demanding that Calero leave the U.S. or face deportation back to Peru--was outrageous.

The INS admitted that no evidence was presented to show that Calero committed the crime he is accused of by the Peruvian secret police (DINCOTE). The INS also conceded that he would likely face torture and a trial by hooded judges if he were to return to Peru.

But then the INS argued that: "The Board of Immigration Appeals has held that if police officers have reason to investigate the extent of an individual's involvement with militants seeking the violent overthrow of the government, and if the police mistreat that individual in order to extract information about those militants rather than to persecute the applicant because of his political opinion, then he has not proven persecution on account of any statutorily protected ground."

In plain language, what this chilling legalistic double-talk is saying is that the U.S. considers torture to be perfectly fine if the Peruvian secret police is "investigating" an individual's involvement in revolutionary activities!

The INS decision points to the cold-blooded and totally unjust policy of the U.S. government: Fear of probable torture and trial by secret military judges will not be considered by the INS to be legitimate grounds for political asylum.

This INS decision is right along the lines set down by the Lima Plan of the OAS and the "counter-terrorism" law signed by Clinton. Both of these are based on legally defining any revolutionary struggle against the U.S. rulers and their lackeys as "terrorist" and "criminal" activity. Outrageous attacks, like the attempt to extradite Julian Calero, can only be expected to increase. This underscores the importance of fighting against the attacks by the U.S. government against people from various countries where the masses have taken up revolutionary struggle.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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