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Dianna Ortiz, OSU, died on February 19, 2021, at 62 years old.  She fought for the rights of all and fought bravely. We are proud and honored to have had her on staff and in our hearts at GHRC. Please visit her full memorial page on our site here

Dianna worked at the Guatemala Human Rights Commission from 1994 to 2002.  A survivor of torture in Guatemala, Dianna bravely pursued her case through the Guatemalan court system in the early 90s, to no avail, and bravely continued fighting for the rights of survivors of torture, founding the Torture Abolition and Survivor’s Support Coalition in 1998, as a project of GHRC. TASSC operated as a project of GHRC until it received its own 501(c)(3) status in 2002. In 1996 Dianna conducted a highly publicized vigil and hunger strike in front of the White House to request the declassification of all US government documents related to cases of human rights abuse in Guatemala since 1954. The State Department made a voluntary release of thousands of pages of Department made a voluntary release of thousands of pages of documents that illustrated US complicity with the Guatemalan government in its brutal and genocidal campaign against the Mayan indigenous and against armed insurgents, human rights defenders, and others working for change. 

Dianna first came to Washington to participate in GHRC’s 1992 conference against torture in Guatemala, giving the keynote speech. As a result of her work with an indigenous community, teaching Mayan children as a missionary in San Miguel Acatan, Dianna had been abducted and tortured by Guatemalan security forces in 1989. GHRC’s founding director, Sister Alice Zachmann, fought for Dianna’s release and was instrumental in connecting her with a torture treatment center in Chicago, the Marjorie Kovler Center. A couple of years later Dianna joined GHRC’s staff of three, advocating for the rights of the Guatemalan people and playing a pivotal role in supporting Jennifer Harbury’s efforts to learn the fate of her husband, Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, efforts that resulted in the disclosure of continued and close US collaboration with and funding of Guatemala’s military death squads.


Dianna was an example of strength, generosity of spirit, and courage. All who knew her were touched by her and all she touched was improved. We are blessed to have had her with us at GHRC and we know she will remain with us in spirit and with all who fight for human rights.

Donations in honor of Sister Dianna Ortiz can be made here.

Aquí se pueden hacer donaciones en honor a la hermana Dianna Ortiz.


If you would like to leave a memory or story about Sr. Dianna, please submit a comment below.

Si desea dejar un recuerdo o una historia sobre Sr. Dianna, envíe un comentario a continuación.



“I hear the cries of the Guatemalan people twenty-four hours a day, as if their cries are coming from a clandestine grave site. I must never forget that I had so many people to fight for my life—my family, my Ursuline family, my church family, the international community, etc., but what about the people of Guatemala? Who will speak on their behalf?”

∼ Dianna Ortiz, journal entry, 1992, as recounted in her memoir.





“The lessons of my torture didn’t stick. I was supposed to have learned that I am powerless. . .I was supposed to have learned despair. But I can’t help hoping. I have faith in the unexpected, the miraculous, the power of people working together and of God working through us. I have to offer all I have and believe and hope it’s enough. And I do.”

∼Sr. Dianna Ortiz



For more information on the life and legacy of Sr. Dianna Ortiz: 

If you would like to leave a memory or story about Sr. Dianna, please submit a comment below.

Si desea dejar un recuerdo o una historia sobre Sr. Dianna, envíe un comentario a continuación.

If you are not able to leave a comment, our apologies! We are attempting to fix this issue.

13 Responses to “Dianna Ortiz Memorial”

  1. Maria Martin says:

    What a miracle she was to so many of us…I feel fortunate her light shone on me as it did on so many others.

    Here is a link to my remembrance of Sister Dianna:

  2. Rhonda Williford says:

    Sister Dianna’s fierce and gentle spirit continues on — as do her many profound
    . Presente in spirit — without cease.

  3. Jorge Sactic says:

    Realmente no sabía de su partida, pero ahora que se, estoy muy triste, siempre la llevaré en mi corazón y nunca la olvidaré. Diana para mí una de las personas más lindas de este mundo, como muy pocas, siempre dando amor y estima a todo mundo, una gran pérdida para la humanidad y una gran dicha y un gran privilegio para todos los que la conocimos y pudimos compartir aunque sea un poco con ella. Y les digo ni ella ni su legado morirán en mí.
    Dios Bendiga a Diana por siempre !

    Jorge L Sactic

  4. Pat Davis says:

    Dianna Ortiz, presente now and always!

  5. Jennufer harbury says:

    Dianna, we all love you dearly. Thank you for sharing your beautiful lght with us.

  6. Nery Rodenas says:

    Nuestra admiración y tributo a una mujer que actuó con valentía en el momento de exigencia, desde la Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala manifestamos nuestras condolencias a la familia y amigos de Dianna Ortiz.

  7. Pat Davis says:

    These words were written of Violeta Parra by the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, but they could apply as well to Dianna:

    Ay, que manera de caer hacia arriba
    y de ser sempereterna, esta mujer!

    De cielo en cielo corre o nada o canta
    . . . .

    la que fue, sigue siendo,
    pero esta mujer sola
    en su ascension no sube solitaria:
    la acompaña la luz del toronjil,
    del oro ensortijada de la cebolla frita,
    la acompañan los pájaros mejores

    . . . .

    Santa de greda pura!

    Te alabo, amiga mía, compañera:
    de cuerda en cuerda llegas
    al firme firmamento . . . .

    I had the privilege of working with Dianna on her memoir, 3 years of spiritual tutorial for me. I had the privilege of working beside her at GHRC. I had the privilege of knowing her. She has left us an example of love and commitment to follow, of great courage, strength, humility and gentleness.

  8. Rhonda Williford says:

    What a loving memorial service — what could be more appropriate for Sister Dianna?
    So grateful that her family could be there. How her powerful spirit will continue on — Presente without cease —

  9. Por parte del equipo, la junta y toda la red de NISGUA, queremos expresarles nuestro más sentido pésame por la pérdida de la compañera Dianna Ortiz. Nos mueve mucho leer sobre su vida y lucha – que gran legado. Si podemos hacer algo para apoyarles en este momento, estamos a la orden. Nuestro solidaridad va a la familia y toda la red de GHRC.

  10. Helen Mack says:

    Tuve la oportunidad de conocer el caso de Dianna Ortiz en el contexto del asesinato de mi hermana Myrna Mack acaecido el 11 de septiembre de 1990. Ambos casos estaban siendo apoyados por la Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado. Tuve oportunidad de conversar con Dianna en varias oportunidades.Nuestro objetivo era que estos casos no quedaran en la impunidad. Logramos que 4 casos condicionaran la ayuda de USA a Guatemala a su esclarecimiento, entre esos 4 casos estaban el de Dianna Ortiz y Myrna Mack. Los otros 2 Masacre de Santiago Atitlán y Michael Devine. Estar empujando los casos me dio oportunidad de conocer a Sister Alice y trabajar con GHRC. Agradezco el compromiso de los derechos humanos y el que me hayan formado y enseñado en DDHH.

  11. Meredith L says:

    Dianna Ortiz. Inspiration, support, and friend to so many. Beautiful spirit. With so much empathy, compassion, and commitment to survivors, to a world free of torture.

    I remember her as a dear friend, and I share condolences with Dianna’s family, her friends and community through the Guatemala Human Rights Commission, and to all who have been touched by Dianna’s life and work.

    Dianna and I met through the Guatemala Human Rights Commission and its project Coalition Missing, and I send my appreciation to GHRC – its staff, board, volunteers, interns, community of present and past – for its extraordinary work for human rights, commitment to the people of Guatemala, and support, over so many years, for Dianna as a person, as an advocate. Con aprecio y abrazos.

  12. She remains a great defender of her faith- and of the courage it has taken to live under repression and torture…Let the world remember her and salute her memory–and all she did to preserve the people she served…May God bless her memory and keep it sacred.

  13. Ernesto Grijalva says:

    Recordare a sister Diana con mucho aprecio la conoci haciendo la huelga enffrente de la casa Blanca despues la volvi a encontrar en GHRC cuando ella trabajp,ahi luego copere como volunntario con ella cuando estaba fundsndo TASS junro a Sister Alice luego segui coperando co n los eventos en la vigilias cuando se hacian en Dupont Circle y luego enfrente de la casa blnanca en el parque lafatte.
    Era muy amorosa con todos los mienbros que fueron torturados y llegaban a TASS como un recurso de apollo algo queno olvidare fuen en su cumpleanios que escogio a un grupo de personas que ella queriia mucho y nos diode primero un pedazo de pastel y entre ellos estaba yo poe todo eso la recoradera y mucha coas ,mas ella no a muerto vivira por siempre en nuestro corazones mientras vivamos., ERnesto Grijalva de Guatemala

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