Remembering Sister Dianna Ortiz, Survivor And Advocate Against Torture

“The miracle of my life is that out of unspeakable horror came a new mission in life.”

Maria Martin writes in Religion Unplugged, a remembrance of Sister Dianna Ortiz, who passed away in February 2021. Sister Diana was a remarkable woman who, while herself experiencing her own trauma, used her horrific experience as a torture survivor in Guatemala in the 1980s to fight for human rights and educate about the use of torture globally.

(REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK) I first met Sister Dianna Ortiz more than 20 years ago — on a wintry Thanksgiving weekend in 1998 at the Cleveland Airport. She looked like a young Virgin of Guadalupe — slight and brown — sitting in a white plastic chair in an airport waiting area, in those pre-9/11 days when visitors were allowed past security.

I was then completing a Kiplinger Journalism Fellowship at Ohio State University and had decided that for my master’s project in investigative journalism, I would follow up on the story of what had happened to the Ursuline missionary 10 years earlier in Guatemala.

I had driven north from Columbus to Cleveland during a snowstorm to meet the young nun who had been kidnapped, raped and tortured by the Guatemalan military in November 1989. Ortiz was one of only a handful of Americans to face — and then barely survive — the violence that the government of that country inflicted daily on many of its citizens.

Moreover, Ortiz claimed a man appearing to be an American was in her torture chamber, and for much of the last 10 years since her horrific experience, she had sought justice and truth from the U.S. and Guatemalan governments — only to be left feeling betrayed by both.

You can read the full, moving piece, with links and a photo of Sister Dianna, here, Remembering Sister Dianna Ortiz, Survivor And Advocate Against Torture.

Categories: Gender, Guatemala, Human Rights, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Military, Racism, Solidarity in Action, Violence

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