Monday, November 17, 2008

and a body to remember with

I learnt about the Chilean coup and following dictatorship in a latin-american studies class last year. The stories Rodriguez tells of her rebel experiences during this time and exile to Canada are much more personal and honest than the textbook i was reading. 
This brings me back to a question that was asked of us this first day of classes; why are  latinos/chicanos in Canada? Not just Chile but Brazil and Argentina had military dictators that acted in similar ways. Torture and death as punishment for conspiring against the dictator were extremely common. It was much more sick than just torture, as Rodriguez writes. Doctors were used to keep victims alive, or just alive enough to keep on torturing them. Women's unborn babies were taken away from them and given to hopeful, rich women that couldn't have babies themselves, oblivious of their origin; groups of people were pushed off flying planes. This type of history begs the question that when the dictatorship is over, how do you punish the guilty, or do you move on and try to leave the tragedy in the past? How would it feel to be rejected or hurt and violated by your home country?
Rodriguez's writing style is blunt and raw. In Canada she can write and express herself in ways that she could not have in Chile. Yet in Canada, she has to learn how to express herself all over again. 
I find the stories to be very emotional and i wonder how much of their content is based on events in her life. So far, to me, the stories are quite similar and thinking back on them, they seem to converge and form one story with different actors and a similar past. As a writer, i wonder if Rodriguez ever feels the need to branch out or try writing about something else, something not so connected to her own life? 


katiekat said...

I must admit that your post left me shocked and speechless. Such horrible things happen to people! The human species as a whole just doesn't make sense to me sometimes. I can't believe that they'd actually take the babies away from the mothers to give to rich women...what heartache! What if the woman's husband had died as a revolutionary and all she had left to remember him by was this child.
You pose a good question about moving on or punishing the eye for an eye, or bury the past? I think every country would have its own feelings about this.
I also agree that Rodriguez probably could not have written this book in Chile with all the turmoil around her. It will be interesting to hear what she has to say about her experiences when she visits our class.

Jacqui said...

Though these details are so difficult to read, I think it's important that they be told.'s almost unbelievable the lengths that people will go to in order to force their views on others.

It's so important for people like Rodriguez to speak out, and that tragedies like this are not forgotten in hopes that history will not repeat itself...

Serena said...

The questions you ask about seeking punishment and reconciliation in the wake of a dictatorship, and also preserving historical memory while healing to get on with the future, are really powerful and important ones, and they're questions that people even our age are dealing with whose parents or relatives were killed or exiled under the military governments of so many Latin American countries in the 70s and 80s. I don't know about other countries but there's practically a whole genre of film in Argentina dedicated to dealing with this traumatic past. If you're interested check out a film called "La historia official" which is about the outcome of exactly the situation you described - the child of a desaparecido being adopted by a wealthy mother ignorant of her origins.