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Chile, about to solve the mystery of Pablo Neruda: Death by disease or murder?

The poet passed away 12 days after Augusto Pinochet’s military coup. The official version spoke of death from illness, but experts are investigating a strange substance that they found in his remains.

A team of specialists began on Tuesday the final stage of an investigation that for more than a decade has sought to clarify one of the Chile’s most enigmatic mysteries: if in 1973 the Chilean poet and Nobel Prize for Literature Pablo Neruda died from illness or was assassinated by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

“We are ad portals to put an end to an investigation that seems to us to have been transcendental,” said Mario Carroza, national coordinating judge for human rights, after the inauguration ceremony of the new round of work by judicial and medical experts.

Neruda, who had been Chilean ambassador to France during the government of Salvador Allende, died on September 23, 1973 in Santiago de Chile, 12 days after the military coup.

The official version delivered by the Pinochet dictatorship says that the author of Elemental Odes Y Twenty love poems and a song of despair He died in a clinic in the capital due to the prostate cancer that afflicted him. On that occasion, after toxicological tests, they rejected that Neruda had been poisoned.




Pablo Neruda died in September 1973, days after Augusto Pinochet’s military coup in Chile. AFP photo

However, in October 2017, a group of 16 experts confirmed that he did not die of cancer. Unable to determine the exact cause of his death, an investigation was launched into a toxin, the “Botulinum Clostridium”, found in the remains of the poet.

Now, local and international experts began a new series of meetings at the Palace of Courts in Santiago to analyze the results of a series of studies to which the remains of the Chilean poet were subjected.

They will assess whether there is sufficient evidence to establish whether this toxic substance caused Neruda’s death and establish how and who inoculated it to Neruda while he was hospitalized in a private clinic in Santiago.

“It is necessary to see if there are indeed those responsible for this intervention, that is, if there are third parties. If these third parties are indeed possible to locate, then decisions related to their responsibilities will have to be made,” said Carroza.

Augusto Pinochet led the military coup against the democratic government of Salvador Allende in Chile.


Augusto Pinochet led the military coup against the democratic government of Salvador Allende in Chile.

The specialists plan to conclude the investigations March 7thwhen they will deliver the final report to Judge Paola Plaza, who heads the investigation and will decide the steps to follow after completing this stage.

“It gives me the impression that (the evidence) will lead to conclusions that may be definitive so that the magistrate who is currently in charge of the investigation can make a definitive determination” on the case, Carroza explained.

Pablo Neruda: one death, many doubts

The investigation into the causes of Neruda’s death began after his former driver, Manuel Araya, told the press in 2011 that the poet could have been poisoned by the Pinochet dictatorship, which left more than 3,200 dead and some 38,000 tortured, according to official figures.

In 2013, after the exhumation of Neruda’s remains, studies carried out in Chile and abroad discovered a “golden staphylococcus”, a highly infectious bacterium that can be lethal, but was not conclusive evidence to determine if this was the cause of the death. death.

Augusto Pinochet and Jorge Rafael Videla, in 1978. Photo AP


Augusto Pinochet and Jorge Rafael Videla, in 1978. Photo AP

Neruda died at the age of 69. His health had deteriorated when he was preparing to leave the country after Pinochet’s coup against socialist leader Salvador Allende, of whom the poet was a close friend.

A plane provided by the Mexican embassy was waiting for the poet to leave Chile so that he could be taken to Mexico as an exile.

Neruda, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971, was in a Santiago clinic where medical reports indicated that he died of cancer.

Former President Eduardo Frei Montalva (1964-1970) died in 1982 in the same clinic where Neruda also died nine years earlier. The Frei case was also investigated as it occurred under the Pinochet regime.

Forensics moved the remains of Pablo Neruda in 2016. Photo AFP


Forensics moved the remains of Pablo Neruda in 2016. Photo AFP

The final investigation into Neruda’s death occurs when 2023 will mark the 50th anniversary of Pinochet’s military coup.

The dictator, who in 1989 tried to validate his stay at the head of the Executive through a plebiscite (No was imposed, with 55% of the votes), continued to participate in military and civic life until 1997. Then he faced various judicial processes and died on December 10, 2006.

With information from AFP

DB

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