Saying Goodbye to Dianna Ortiz

Dianna Ortiz, an American nun, was working with Indigenous people when she was abducted, tortured and raped by the Guatemalan military. Her fight to see justice done uncovered the US complicity with the Guatemalan genocide. She became an important part of the campaign against the practice of torture and for the healing of survivors. She directed TASSC – Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition.

In 2012, at the Program for Torture Victims, we honored her as a Human Rights Hero. We learned today that she died this week, in hospice, much too young at 62.

Thinking of her made me remember: I was in Guatemala about a decade before she was, briefly staying at a guesthouse where military officers stationed in the village also took meals. We ate family-style. I was talking about the school for Indigenous youth where I’d been living in Mexico. The table fell silent till one of the men said, “Señorita, you must not talk about this. It’s all very good for Mexico, but in this country, if you teach an Indian to read, the Army will kill you.”

Rest in peace, Sister Dianna.

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