Remains of poet Pablo Neruda exhumed to determine if he was executed by Pinochet regime

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24 Responses to “Remains of poet Pablo Neruda exhumed to determine if he was executed by Pinochet regime”

  1. Boundegar says:

    Neruda died a long time ago, and it’s likely his poisoner, if there is one, has died too.  I don’t know how much justice is to be had by digging the poor guy up.

    • Christopher says:

      It may not be so much in the interests of justice as it is for history. There are questions surrounding the deaths of quite a few artists–Poe (was it alcoholism? a heart attack? rabies? a brain tumor?), Mozart (was it the Masons? was it kidney failure? was it trichinosis?), Dylan Thomas (was it alcoholism? drugs? diabetes?).

      Personally I don’t think there’s much value in digging through the detritus of famous people, but it gives biographers something to do.

      • Boundegar says:

        True.  Also, if we get bored we can do the Pope Formosus thing again.

      • toyg says:

        It’s not about him being an artist — his political role in Chile (and abroad!) was quite clear. As you say, it’s about history: about finding the truth about the death of a popular political leader and ideologue (and great artist) under a murderous dictatorship. If that’s not worth digging for, I don’t know what is.

        Whether this will help modern Chile, that’s another question entirely.

    • Jim Saul says:

      Truth is important even when there’s no one to punish.

      Indeed, between the two, truth is far and away more important than justice.

      • Bradley Robinson says:

        Will Neruda’s stature or the power of his words change at all if it is discovered he was in fact a victim of foul play?  Conversely, will it change if in fact the original circumstance of his death is affirmed?

        I strain to see the use of digging him up to satisfy a curiosity that in the end changes nothing.  He’ll be dead.  His words will speak posthumously.  Neither will be enhanced.

        • Funk Daddy says:

          That last bit is why I see it as no harm. His words will remain, let them sift through a now empty sack of carbon

        • Jim Saul says:

          Of course whether or not he was murdered is critical context for both the history of Chile, and for his own literary, political, and intellectual legacy. It seems exceptionally strange to think otherwise. Do you think either Kennedy’s legacy would have been the same if he had died in an accident?

          • Bradley Robinson says:

            Forgive me, but I much prefer to measure the worth of my fellow humans by what they did while on this cursed rock and not the means by which they finally escaped it.  

            Neruda’s accomplishments speak for themselves and require no additional “voice” or “platform” upon which to stand.

            I find nothing “exceptionally strange” about this position.

          • Jim Saul says:

            Would you include among those acts of his life the fact that he returned to Chile despite warnings that he would be murdered? That he remained as Pinochet’s coup unfolded, despite warnings that his murder would be imminent, as his friends were killed?

          • toobigtofail says:

             “I much prefer to measure the worth of my fellow humans by what they did while on this cursed rock”

            Exactly why the deeds of the Pinochet regime are examined and not allowed to remain hidden.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I find nothing “exceptionally strange” about this position.

            Indeed, every totalitarian dictatorship in history has espoused it.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          Not sure that truth is ever superfluous.

    • len says:

      What possible motive is there for that sentiment except to whitewash the history of a murderous right-wing dictatorship?

      • Frank Lee Scarlett says:

        I’d add the possible motive of whitewashing the documented relationships between Pinochet’s dictatorship and the governments of the US and the UK. Further, Pinochet was only one of many dictators in C. and S. America, who owed their position and power to the support and active involvement of the US and the UK.

        The history of that involvement in C. And S. American politics in the 70s and 80s is still left largely unexposed, to the detriment of the people of all the Americas.

        Nuanced history, the product of research by individuals representing viewpoints across the political spectrum, usually begins to emerge roughly 40 to 50 years after a particular epoch. Suppressed records are released. Formerly powerful agents die. And new political realities shed light on events that are difficult to put into context as they occur. Neruda’s exhumation is part of this process.

        I will add, finally, that Neruda was a phenomenal poet, but in the context of Chilean history, he was also a political heavyweight. Following a lifetime of activism, he was one of Allende’s closest consultants and was appointed Ambassador to France from 1970 to 72. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1970 partly in recognition of the dual role he had played as poet and activist over his lifetime.

        To quote Neruda himself: “A poet,” Neruda stated in his Stockholm speech of acceptance of the Nobel Prize, “is at the same time a force for solidarity and for solitude.”

        • Boundegar says:

          Well, you got me. There’s nothing I like better than whitewashing the history of a murderous right-wing dictatorship. In between homophobic screeds and ignorant, mysogynist comments.

      • Jonathan Martin says:

         And speaking of whitewashing murderous dictatorships…how about a quote from Neruda’s “Ode to Stalin”?

        “In Stalin’s invincible time! . . .
        In recent years the dove,
        Peace, the wandering persecuted rose,
        Found herself on his shoulders
        And Stalin, the giant,
        Carried her at the heights of his forehead. . . .
        A wave beats against the stones of the shore.”

        Written in 1953 by the way.

  2. blondellebisho says:

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  3. It’s the usual electoral tactic by “la concertación”.

    When elections are coming they dig someone up (several times if needed).

  4. It is important to know what happened. Many people in Chile still denies there were human rights violations during Pinochet regime.

    • Frank Lee Scarlett says:

      And many people in the US have no idea who Pinochet or Allende were, despite the fact that Nixon gave the CIA the go-ahead, which the Agency embraced, to actively engage in propaganda of the word and deed to topple Allende’s government.

      The CIA was not entirely responsible for the coup d’etat, the dictatorship, the totalitarian state, the disappearances, and the reign of terror, but their involvement certainly set the stage for these events. And the Pinochet regime did enjoy the support of the United States governments, despite the crimes perpetrated by that regime. As I pointed out above, it is time to re-address the history of that era and, at least, honor its victims with the truth.

      It’s too much to ask, I’m sure, but one ideal result of fully documenting this history would be a fundamental shift in US foreign policy to refrain from installing and supporting right-wing dictators in areas in which US corporations (cf. ITT) might have financial interests. I know, I know… I must have gone too heavy on the ether again.

  5. maxigirl says:

    Let’s not forget if the United States had not supported General Augusto Pinochet’s coup, these artists, activists and just regular  people would not have been tortured and murdered for the countries mining interests and oil.  

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