In 1987 Dianna Ortiz, a young Ursuline from New Mexico, joined her sisters in Guatemala, where she taught Mayan children. For the most part, she was unaffected by the country’s political situation or the history of horrendous violence directed by the military against Indigenous peoples. But on November 2, 1989, all that changed. While attending a retreat, Sr. Dianna was abducted and taken by police car to a secret prison in what she later identified as the police academy in Guatemala City. There she was repeatedly raped and subjected to atrocious tortures. After twenty-four hours, the “boss,” a man named Alejandro who spoke with an American accent, intervened and said she had been taken by mistake. As he drove her away, asking her to “forgive and forget” her abductors, she managed to jump from his car and escape the country.
Yet, the trauma of her ordeal continued. With courage, she undertook a long quest to uncover the truth of her case. Reliving the nightmares and confronting the memories that haunted her, she spoke out, testified before courts and tribunals, and fasted across the street from the White House for the release of information. In the face of calumnies, lies, and the threat of retaliation, she insisted on being a voice and witness for those who had no voice. In a haunting memoir, The Blindfold’s Eyes, she recounted her story and the struggle to recover the trust and faith that were shattered in her torture cell. Sr. Dianna went on to found TASCC, a support network for survivors of torture. She died of cancer on February 19, 2021.
“In spite of the memories of humiliation, I stand with the people of Guatemala. I demand the right to heal and to know the truth. I demand the right to a resurrection.” —Sr. Dianna Ortiz