The great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda has long been thought to have died of prostate cancer, but in recent years, his personal driver claims he was murdered by the Pinochet regime. After years of controversy, a judge has ruled that there is sufficient evidence to approve the exhumation of his remains, to try and determine the true cause of his death, just two weeks after the coup. One theory: Neruda was poisoned. The exhumation happened yesterday.
Shortly after the coup, as the new military rulers persecuted supporters of Mr. Allende, troops looted and destroyed Mr. Neruda’s house in the capital and twice raided his home in Isla Negra, where he lived with his third wife, Matilde Urrutia.
The Mexican government had offered to fly the couple out of the country, and days before he was scheduled to travel, Mr. Neruda was admitted to the Santa María clinic in the capital.
In 2011, Mr. Neruda’s driver at the time, Manuel Araya, publicly claimed that Mr. Neruda had not been in critical condition beforehand and that a day before his death Mr. Neruda, 69, told him that a doctor had given him an injection in the stomach that made him “burn inside.” His health quickly deteriorated. Mr. Araya contends that the poet was poisoned by doctors in the clinic, although there are no material witnesses to confirm the accusation.
"There is lots of water [where Neruda is buried], lots of salinity and it will take months of investigation," said [Eduardo Contreras, a Chilean lawyer who has been pushing for a thorough investigation of Neruda's death], when asked whether analysis was even possible 40 years later.
"We have world-class labs from India, Switzerland, Germany, the US, Sweden, they have all offered to do the lab work for free. That is the tenderness that he still provokes in people."
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