Carmen Rodríguez was born and raised in Chile. A political and social activist, she and her family became threatened as the chaos surrounding the 1973 military coup escalated. With the assistance of friends, Carmen, her husband, and her daughters, aged five and six, narrowly escaped with their lives. A year later they came to Vancouver. Thus began a fourteen-year exile from her home.
and a body to remember with is Carmen's first book of short fiction to be published. The stories in this collection document her experiences as a political activist in Chile, and as an exile and immigrant in Canada.
In Vancouver, Carmen continued speaking out against the human rights violations in Chile. Her outspoken views resulted in her Chilean passport being confiscated by the consulate. She was unable to travel outside Canada until becoming a Canadian citizen in 1979.
Carmen's parents traveled to Vancouver to visit in 1975. "My mother wanted to be able to take things back to the family so she worked as a cleaning lady to make money. She couldn't speak a word of English. In fact, she became best friends with the old Chinese man who ran the corner store. He would speak Chinese to her and she would answer him in Spanish. They got along great."
It was 1987 before Carmen was to revisit Chile, and the family and friends she left behind. "Part of the agreement with the Vatican for having the Pope visit Chile was that the government clear everyone off the 'blacklist.'" Carmen was finally able to return home. But Chile is still frustrating for Carmen. "To this day Chileans are suffering from collective amnesia. The country is now a model of how things can change and they don't want to remember how it happened. They don't want any rocking of the boat."
Even so, Carmen is proud to have a Spanish companion to and a body to remember with: De Cuerpo Entero, published by Editorial Los Andes.