Carmen Granados, born in La Merced, San Jose, Costa Rica on April 26, 1915. Daughter of Don Manuel Granados and Doña María Cristina Soto Pereira. Due to financial problems she could not finish high school. Very early on she began to show interest in music and starts appearing on the New Alma Tica radio.
Known by all Costa Ricans as the “National Soul”, the cheerful, always flirtatious, deeply Costa Rican and unique Carmen Granados Soto has been an outstanding folklorist, composer, humorist, anchor, poet, commentator, artist, creator of characters inspired by a deep nationalism, leader of humanitarian causes; an amazing multifaceted lady.
She popularized her pseudonym through the children’s stories she wrote, books that after the modernist movement began, marked the advent of women in Latin American literature.
Dona Carmen Granados was a woman dedicated to the preservation and exaltation of the Costa Rican culture. It made art a useful tool not only for the promotion of national values, but also to gather around the generosity and solidarity of the inhabitants of Costa Rica when a tragedy engulfed the country or neighboring countries.
She learned English and French. After the fall of the regime of the Tinoco, Julio Acosta took office, whose government sent her in 1920 to study in Europe to expand her pedagogical knowledge on the new paradigms of primary education, especially those of Maria Montessori on kindergartens. She traveled to Paris, France, and studied at the Sorbonne University, visited Italy and was in England. On her return from Europe, she ran the maternal schools.
Working as a commentator in “La Voz de la Victor” alongside Rodrigo Sánchez. Then she would create “El Resbalón”, a comic newscast, in it she would work with other comics like Lico Font. Doña Carmen also composed music, honoring Costa Rican dignitaries of the time as the pugilist Tuzo Portugués; her most famous song is the “Corrido a Pepe Figueres”, which she sang in the Victory parade, in which liberationist troops ran from the Bellavista barracks all the way through central avenue, taking San José without firing a single bullet.
On another occasion she sang on the radio with Leila Alvarado the great melody “Amor de temporada” by the composer Héctor Zúñiga. Carmen Granados was a great singer and comedian and without any doubts the best folklorist to be born in Costa Rica. Helping to rescue and maintain the nationalist’s traditions.
Other writings by her are, In a wheelchair (1918), The fantasies of Juan Silvestre (1918), Work (1977) and The other stories of Carmen Lyra (1985).
She is the best writer of the realism genre in its beginnings in our country. She also has been considered the founder of the social realism narrative tendency in our country, after writing her famous stories “Bananas and Men” and “Silhouettes of the Maternal” that gave her a great reputation in our country and abroad. However, the most well-known work in her literary career was the popular “Cuentos de mi Tía Panchita”, published in 1920 by her great friend Joaquín García Monge, and of which numerous editions have been made. The rest of her works are distributed in newspapers and magazines, among them “Bananas y Hombres” (1933), a story that confronts with great realism the drama of the Banana companies exploitation.
It is important to mention that also in the role of Leopoldina in the program “La Niña Pochita”, Granados was a great comedian and her jokes amused Costa Ricans for many years. Accompanied by Alerto Castillo, Ofelia Quiroz, Carlos Palma, Zaida Quiros, Babby Granados, Mario Chacón, Pilar Duran and the “Gordo” Ortiz create the national theater company; with this company they made presentations in Panama, the United States and Nicaragua. In addition to comedy they also made operetta and zarzuela presentations and on one occasion Carmen sang alongside the remembered Melico Salazar. On the radio she would create “El Matrimonio Ideal” program, very funny.
The Legislative Assembly designated her “Benemerita” (with great merit) of the national culture, by decree No. 1679 of July 28, 1976.
The last years of her life were devoted entirely to political activity, standing out in this field as a journalist, communicator of ideas and as a skilled leader of the Partido Vanguardia Popular (communist). After the fall of the government of President Teodoro Picado, at the end of the civil war of 1948, she left the country on April 23 and exiled herself in Mexico with broken health.
A year later she requested permission to return, but this was denied and on May 14, 1949 she died far from her country. Her remains arrived on May 20 and were buried on May 22 in the general cemetery of the city of San José, and all of Costa Rica mourned together with her family this irreparable loss.
Redacted by Aura Silva