Ursuline Sister Dianna Ortiz, 62, died of cancer on February 19 in a Washington D.C. hospice.
Dianna was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the middle of eight children. Her father was a uranium miner. She entered the Ursulines at age 17 and went to Guatemala in 1987 to teach children.
While serving as a 31-year-old missionary in Guatemala, Sister Dianna was abducted by members of CIA supported police officers. She was brought to Guatemala City where for 24 hours she received cigarette burns, and was raped repeatedly under questioning. In 1995, Dianna was awarded $5 million in damages.
The torture stopped when a man with a Northern American accent entered the room and said in English, "Shit." He told the torturers in Spanish, "You idiots! Leave her alone. She’s a North American, and it’s all over the news."
To Sr Dianna he said, "You have to forgive those guys, they made a mistake.” She returned to the U.S. within 48 hours of her escape.
Like other torture victims, the sister suffered a partial memory loss from the time before she went to Guatemala, and had to be reintroduced to her family. It took her a long time to rebuild her trust in people.
Sr Dianna also got pregnant from the rapes. Overwhelmed by the torture, she got an abortion. This increased her feelings of guilt and emotional distress.