Home | About | Donate

Sister Dianna Ortiz—US Nun Who Survived Guatemala Torture to Become Human Rights Champion—Dies at 62

As an ex-CIA chief of station said: the CIA’s whole purpose is to keep the world destabilised.


I recall the invocation of “Not In Our Name” when we tried - unsuccessfully of course, but we tried - to stop the invasion of Iraq.

The horrendous sadism perpetrated upon innocent people around the world - from what Sr. Ortiz endured to DT separating children from their parents and then caging them - is a continuum that brings shame to us, but not to the perpetrators. What is wrong with this picture?


we are all horrified by this story but ask yourselves, Why are these crimes of the U.S. govt not exposed? Who owns the levers of media. TV, newspapers of record ?, movies, etc. This cabal promotes discord worldwide. War pays.


Anyone who could know about the ordeal of Sr. Ortiz and still praise Ronald Reagan is beneath contempt.


True. While Sister Dianna’s horrific torture happened in 1989, as George HW Bush, #41, was president, Bush was continuing Reagan’s and the US duopoly policies in Guatemala that had continued with the CIA-sponsored overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz’ administration in June, 1954.


You could do NOTHING? What about joining the widespread movements at the time
that were campaigning against genocidal U.S. policies in Central America. Lots of groups,
religious and secular, humanistic and progressive, union-based and community-based.
What about pressing politicians and helping progressives get elected?

Not everyone can do everything, but saying NOTHING could be done is wrong.
Just as support in the U.S. is currently needed to stop genocidal U.S. policies
in Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran and perhaps Ecuador. The intellectual drivers
and prime backers in these horror shows are in the U.S.


Nobody (Nieman in German), I think you must have missed the whole liberation theology movement in Latin America, especially in the Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. That movement empowered communities and attempted to put the church at the service of the people (later undermined by popes from Paul VI to Benedict). In Nicaragua, pressure from Christian base communities and the population at large in the face of decades of a U.S.-sponsored torture regime led the bishop of Managua to endorse the people’s right to rise in rebellion. See the post by Brett-Wilkins1 for a short list of religious luminaries who served the people, not oligarchs and U.S. controllers. Recall the now sainted bishop Oscar Romero, assassinated for calling on the U.S. to stop propping up El Salvador’s military dictatorship and directly calling on its soldiers to “cease the repression.”

"Dianna’s declared purpose was to teach reading so that the bible would be more accessible
(and the RC’s grip tighter). She was apparently not concerned with anything more mundane
or even rational.’

I too am no fan of religion per se, but note Ortiz’s statement in the video that the military regime considered children a threat because if they could read and write they would more more inclined as adults to demand their rights. Ortiz was teaching literacy as well as religion. As kaythegardener suggests, progressive Catholics were reading and studying the bible themselves instead of the traditional control and interpretation of texts by priests.

You are right to point out the dangers of bringing foreign religions into largely indigenous cultures.
Use of the Bible to indoctrinate Latin Americans was the explicit goal of the Wycliffe Bible Institute,
founded in Colombia but reportedly by the CIA. Indeed the U.S. saw Latin Catholicism as a threat and funded and encouraged fundamentalist sects from Houston and elsewhere in the U.S. to proselytize
– a task in which they have largely succeeded, among other things fracturing Catholic communities
into individual Jesus-shouting salvation seekers. You must know how much U.S.-inspired evangelists
have broken the Catholic consensus in Latin America.


At that time, teaching people to read the Bible was with a Liberation theological slant, similar to MLK. Even the majority of Latin American hieratchy came out with the Medellin Declatation in promoting the Preferential Option for the poor.
However under the long reactionary pope John Paul II, these bishops were replaced throughout the world by safe non-threatening to the elites bishops.

Perhaps that is why such later bishops were also able to sleep through the clerical sexual abuse crisis with no responsiblity or empathy for the victims!!
Just look at how most of the current Catholic bishops in the USA have been GOP sycophants since the first Bush term through Trump.
And how they have ignored Biden who has started to undo some of the evils of 45’s policies!
No wonder the number of Former Catholics nearly = current Catholics. Most lay people ignore their announcements as lacking credibility in setting an example of truly Christian living…


A moving tribute; the video is well worth watching. Can anyone still doubt that
the causes of mass Guatemalan migration are rooted north of the Rio Grande?


I thought it was a good idea to bar the CIA from operations within the U.S. Sadly now they’ve infected the information sources necessary to a free democratic People, and as such are enemies of constitutional government.


It will serve truth and reconciliation for this clandestine torture and murder prison where untold numbers of Guatemalans and Sister Dianna were taken, to be opened to the public and shown to the world, as is Auschwitz prison camp.

Along with truth and reconciliation, making this public serves the meaning and legacy of the suffering people of Guatemala, including Sister Dianna Ortiz.

All should see the joint product of US foreign policy in Central America and the Guatemalan security forces.

Deliver the oppressed.


Those are three powerful comments, @EMcommon, and thank you for sharing your insights.

I was raised Roman Catholic about that time. It was a very different experience than what @Niemand had. I was still in school when the “sainted” John Paul II came in. It was like the Dark Ages descending.


No, actually I was a big fan. I think Dom Hélder should have been canonised instead of forced into retirement by Wojtyła, who didn’t die anywhere near early enough and definitely should never have been canonised himself.


Ironically they are also the avowed enemies of Westpoint whose sworn motto is “I shall not lie, cheat or steal. Nor tolerate those who do”.
Which is basically all the CIA does when they are not murdering, torturing or terrorizing people.


Is that why most Latin American countries end up being 99% Catholic and completely lose their original diversity, because of the benign teachings of the church? Which also has a history of some fairly heinous practices as well. If the Catholic church has been a service to the people in Central America for all these years as many have said here, let me say they are not very good at liberation.

Additionally, in this country, a great deal of the work they do is funded by the same U.S. government. They recently made over a billion dollars in Covid relief funds.

If their practices are anything like those imposed on indigenous people in the U.S. they should apologize and leave.

That’s a lot like" America the free and the home of the brave."


“… most Latin American countries end up being 99% Catholic
and completely lose their original diversity”

I’d wager even published CIA documents could set you straight on that. Because of the perceived
threat of progressive Catholicism, the U.S. sent fundamentalist evangelical missionaries south.
With considerable success, as I mentioned earlier: in most Latin American countries,
Catholics make up less than half of the population.

It’s American-based missionaries who are homogenizing particularly indigenous people
in Central America and elsewhere, breaking up traditional culture and sense of community.

If nothing else, realize that Catholicism is a vast and varied communities, with a sizeable
number of progressives still, even in the U.S. (viz. Dianna Ortiz). Pope Francis may not
be everyone’s ideal, but he’s a breath of fresh air compared with recent predecessors.


Indeed. And the sudden and unexpected death of John Paul I is still suspicious.