Peruvian journalist and Russian spy Vicky Pelaez. Photo by Federal Bureau of Investigations.
Beyond Borders, Peru, United States

Alleged Spy Vicky Pelaez Plans To Leave Russia To Return To Her Native Peru

July 14, 2010 By Alison Bowen
Peruvian journalist and Russian spy Vicky Pelaez. Photo by Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Peruvian journalist and alleged Russian spy Vicky Pelaez.

NEW YORK — The alleged spy whose feet hadn’t even touched Russian soil wants to leave the country, her lawyer said.

Vicky Pelaez, the 55-year-old journalist deported last week to Russia, was the only non-Russian in a spy ring accused of trying to funnel American secrets.

“We are not sure when she will return,” her lawyer, John M. Rodriguez, said in an e-mail to Latin American News Dispatch.

But he said Pelaez, a naturalized U.S. citizen while in the States, will leave Russia for Peru and hopes to return to her writing roots.

Right now, Pelaez lives in an apartment provided by the Russian government. She was reportedly the last to sign an agreement exchanging her group for four spies held in Russia.

She and her 66-year-old husband, Juan Lazaro Sr. – real name Mikhail Anatonoljevich Vasenkov – lived in Yonkers, N.Y., with their son, gifted pianist Juan Lazaro Jr., 17, and his 38-year-old brother Waldo Mariscal.

Their two sons are reportedly broke and seeking help from the Red Cross after the government confiscated their house.

“I feel bad for the son,” Kevin Virgilio, who works at the younger son’s music school, told The New York Post. “He got tangled up in the sins of others.”

Rodriguez has said Pelaez didn’t know the extent of the spy ring’s activities, or even her husband’s real name.

Friends have rushed to her defense, saying the charges must have been born of miscommunication.

This Latin American’s path to an international spy ring began in the 1980s, when she started her career as a tough reporter in Peru.

In Lima, she met Lazaro, who was a freelance photographer and karate teacher, according to the Associated Press. Pelaez worked for Frecuencia Latina and the magazine Punto.

In 1994, she and her cameraman were kidnapped for one day by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. As a result, she and her new husband, Lazaro, fled the country and created a life for themselves in New York.

For years, she wrote for El Diario La Prensa, crafting left-leaning articles critical of President Barack Obama and capitalism.

While the other nine spies smiled during their court appearance, Pelaez cried, The Daily News reported, and she was the last to sign the agreement that ended with an American and Russian plane meeting in Vienna to swap spies.

In return, the Russian government promised her not only the free housing, but also a $2,000 per month stipend for life and plane tickets allowing her two sons to visit.

Her son, Mariscal, told The Associated Press his family would reunite. “We have a nice adobe house in Peru that my mother built little by little,” he said.

Authorities said Pelaez passed messages written in invisible ink and grabbed a bag of cash from a Russian contact in Peru.

Federal Court Judge Ronald Ellis told NBC that her case is “more complicated,” because she used her real identity and didn’t seem to be a trained agent.

Image: Wiki Commons

About Alison Bowen

Alison is a Missouri native and New York City freelance writer who has wanted to cover Latin America since studying Spanish in Central America. After moving to Brooklyn, her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Daily News, the Manhattan Times and Women’s eNews. She earned a master’s degree in journalism and Latin American and Caribbean studies at New York University. Her thesis focused on immigration policies after September 11, including counterterrorism measures, and their effects on the daily lives of immigrants in New York City.

3 Comments

[…] Alleged spy Vicky Pelaez plans to leave Russia and return to her native Peru. Read more about the Peruvian-born columnist for New York’s Spanish daily El Diario La Prensa who is caught up in the Russian spy ring at Alison Bowen’s blog Beyond Borders. […]

[…] Alleged spy Vicky Pelaez plans to leave Russia and return to her native Peru. Read more about the Peruvian-born columnist for New York’s Spanish daily El Diario La Prensa who is caught up in the Russian spy ring at Alison Bowen’s blog Beyond Borders. […]

[…] Alleged spy Vicky Pelaez plans to leave Russia and return to her native Peru. Read more about the Peruvian-born columnist for New York’s Spanish daily El Diario La Prensa who is caught up in the Russian spy ring at Alison Bowen’s blog Beyond Borders. […]

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