Sister Dianna Ortiz author of The Blindfold’s Eyes: My Journey From Torture to Truth
“In November 1989, while working as a missionary in Guatemala, I was abducted by security forces and taken to a secret torture center in the capital city. So I entered a world from which few return. This book is the result of a promise I made: I will never forget you. I will tell the world what I have seen and heard. I spoke to the dead and dying – people not lucky enough to have politicians and journalists flooding the phone lines, outraged about their “disappearance.” Outrage in Guatemala in 1989 was a luxury too often reserved for foreigners. Guatemala’s president at the time admitted that the security forces carried out almost sixty disappearances a month that year for political reasons; people who were considered treats to the status quo were abducted and tortured at a rate of nearly two a day. The president acknowledged that the majority of the victims were women. After “disappearing,” people almost always ended up dead.
I’m not alone in that knowledge. As Adrienne Rich, in North American Time, observes:
I am wiring this in a time
When everything we write
Will be used against us
Or against those we love….
Where the context is never given
Through you try to explain, over and over.
“Words are found responsible,“ she says. “All we can do is choose them or choose to remain silent.” I don’t have the right to be silent. For some reason I survived. I have to let the people who were being tortured beside me know that I haven’t forgotten them. And as long as I am alive, I have to use my life to work against the practice of torture. Although I would like to be in the classroom, teaching children, I hope I am making the world safe for them by teaching people about what torture is and what it does.”
In 1989 while working as a missionary in Guatemala, Sister Dianna Ortiz was abducted by security forces and brutally torturer. Her case attracted international attention, not because it was so unusual, but because she escaped to reveal the details, and because of the explosive charge that the man who intervened with her captors – a mysterious “Alejandro” – may even had connections with the U.S. Embassy.
Sister Dianna Ortiz, an Ursuline nun, is a human rights activist and advocate for the victims of torture, She is Director of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support coalition International (TASSC). Among many honors, she has received the Pax Christi National Peacemaker Award and the Annual Human Rights Award of the Office of the Americas.
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