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The Blindfold's Eyes: My Journey from Torture to Truth (Guatemala) Hardcover – October 15, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1989, Sister Dianna Ortiz, an American-born nun, was abducted from the compound where she worked in Guatemala. Twenty-four hours later, she escaped, but within that brief period, her body had been burned with cigarettes, she'd been raped, beaten and forced to torture a woman who was already near death. As a consequence of her devastation, Ortiz lost every memory she had of her life before the kidnapping, and spent years battling both real and remembered demons in a struggle to heal herself and to spread the word about U.S. complicity in Guatemala's repressive political system and in the torture and murder of thousands of innocent Guatemalans. This is an important book for two reasons: its illustration of the fallout of torture and the special needs of survivors, and Ortiz's well-documented narrative of the U.S. government's refusal to take seriously what happened to her, particularly as she identified one of her torturers as an American. It's unfortunate that Ortiz didn't have a better editor. This is a powerful story and Ortiz (aided by Davis, communications director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission) is a strong writer, but the avalanche of detail will confuse readers, and material such as the text of speeches and memos could have been included in an appendix. But Ortiz's determination to tell the truth in spite of ongoing threats and her own fear makes this book, despite its flaws, impossible to dismiss. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In the 1980s Sister Dianna Ortiz went to Guatemala to help citizens victimized by one of the world's most oppressive regimes. As a result, she nearly became one of the disperdicios, or the disappeared, called that because they literally disappeared into the night to be raped, tortured, and murdered, never to be seen alive again by their families. Sister Dianna was one of the more fortunate victims of this regime in that her ordeal was relatively brief--and she survived. He book focuses on the long-term effects of her ordeal more than the gory details of what she suffered. But it is about more than just the torture of Sister Dianna or the other disperdicios. It also puts their suffering in context by examining what allowed these things to happen. Sister Dianna's story will interest anyone wishing to understand how rape and torture break down the human spirit, and how it is possible to survive such assaults. Students of political science will also find this book intriguing. June Pulliam
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Orbis Books (October 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570754357
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570754357
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,104,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book by and about Dianna Ortiz, and her struggle for healing and justice is a mosaic of one woman's courage and resilience against a crushing backdrop of shameful torture of thousands of innocents in Guatemala. Her torture was motivated, not only by the sadistic cruelty of a few monsters, but also was part of a deliberately chosen pattern of social and political repression by the governments of Guatemala, abetted by representatives of the United States Government.
The genius of the book is the way the author allows the reader into her life, and the workings of her mind as she struggles to overcome the truama of her ordeal. She gives us priviledged information about herself and the effects fo her torture on her family, friends, and her religious community. The testimony of a torture survivor and the recovery of her human dignity is a story worth reading for its own sake.
Dianna Ortiz's book, The Blindfold's Eyes offers more.
Her story transcends her personal experience and serves as a window into the historical dimension of our foreign policy in Guatemala. In the light of Sister Ortiz's story, decent Americans will come to question how much human incense, (literally), are we willing to burn at the altar of National Security ?
This book made me angry. It made me cry. It also left me with a lot of questions. In the end this book gave me permission to hold on to a fragile hope for a world seemingly able to devise the most heinous methods to terrorize the spirit of the human person.
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Format: Hardcover
I first read Sister Dianna's memoir when it came out in October 2002, but found her account of her kidnapping, torture, and rape in Guatemala (not to mention the psychological and social after-effects she's endured) simply too troubling to review at the time. I just reread it, and only now am able to get beyond the pain to touch base with what I think is the book's real message.
Sister Dianna never softpedals either the brutality to which humans can sink nor the horrifying scars such brutality leaves on victims. She and thousands like her have been wounded for life by the ill-treatment they suffered. To look at Sister's photograph on the book's cover is to see a pain in her eyes that will probably never leave her. But she also leaves room for hope and redemption: a hope and redemption, granted, that are ambiguous and sometimes desperate, but nonetheless solidly real for being so unromanticized. She recognizes that what was taken from her during her brutalization can never be returned. Accounts will never be balanced. But as she writes at book's end, "What I had to learn is that math is not enough. You have to take into account the unexpected. As Graham Greene said, 'Life is absurd. Therefore, there is always hope.'" Not hope for a flashy divine intervention that makes everything right, but for a more solid, more redemptive healing: "I have forgiven God for not working some dramatic miracle. I've learned that God was working a quiet miracle all along, healing me through other people. I still have the horrible past with me
--I carry it in my memory and in my skin and I always will--but laid over it, like new skin over a wound, is a newer past, a past of caring and love."
I thank God for people like Dianna Ortiz, whose life reminds us that there is great strength in fragility.
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Format: Hardcover
Sister Dianna Ortiz has given the world a real gift with this book. "The Blindfold's Eyes" is a compelling story of her personal and political journey from the time of her kidnapping and torture in Guatemala to her current work fighting to abolish the practice and bring healing to its victims. In that time she introduces us to many heroes of the struggle for justice, both in the U.S. and especially among the indigenous of Guatemala. The courage that Sister Dianna shows in confronting those responsible for her torture and those that would have them get away with it is inspiring.
This is an amazing story. Sister Dianna shows remarkable strength in describing the unspeakable horrors that she survived in Guatemala. The indignities that she has sufferend in the lies, denials and cover-ups since her ordeal are nearly as difficult to accept. The combination of her personal journey to wellness and her ability to use her experience as a catalyst for fundmental social change is an impressive accomplishment. It should be read as a spiritual memoir, as a survivor's statement, and as a guidebook to how our Government really works.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sister Dianna Ortiz presents a compelling retelling of her experience with the brutality of the military regime in Guatemala. Her story is disturbing on a multitude of fronts. Ortiz's purpose in writing the book seems to be twofold: to exorcise the demons that linger around her and to expose the complicity of the US government in the military (and hence political) affairs of the government of Guatemala - especially as it pertains to the brutal methods of torturous warfare perpetuated on the citizens and noncitizens of the country.
Ortiz is successful in exposing how the United States is intricately tied up in this macabre dance of social/political machinations in that country. She, and others working with her on similar cases, have been instrumental in obtaining the declassification of CIA and US embassy communications - communications that even though heavily censored, point directly to US involvement in that country.
What is also disturbing about Ortiz's work is that it leaves questions unanswered, too. It becomes apparent that Ortiz is laying out her case in print as she has been unsuccessful in obtaining direct confessions from the US government that relate to her own personal experience. This constant attempt to justify actions and expose certain individuals becomes almost vendetta like in nature towards the end of her account although it is hard to be critical of that point given the tremendous psychological and physical warfare that has been perpetuated against her. Her strategy is probably a wise one as it is an attempt to force personal responsibility on individuals rather than let the government escape with a general nod at its own collective and ambiguously defined guilt.
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