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Pablo Neruda to be exhumed?

By Harriet Staff

Chile’s Communist Party is calling for Pablo Neruda‘s remains to be exhumed, following allegations from Manuel Araya — the poet’s chauffeur and assistant — that he may have been poisoned. Neruda died just 12 days after General Augusto Pinochet took power in 1973, ousting President Salvador Allende, who was a friend of the poet. The AP reports:

[Communist] Party member Juan Andres Lagos told The Associated Press on Monday that the request will be reviewed by Judge Mario Carroza, who is probing deaths allegedly caused by abuses during the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet between 1973 and 1990.

Manuel Araya, who was Neruda’s chauffeur and assistant, has told reporters in recent months that he and Neruda’s wife received a phone call from him on the day of his death from a hospital where he was being treated for late-stage prostate cancer.

Araya reported that Neruda said to “come quickly, because while I was asleep a doctor entered and gave me a shot.”

Araya said they received the call while he and Neruda’s wife were at the poet’s seaside home in Isla Negra, where they had gone to gather belongings a day before they planned to travel to Mexico and go into exile.

The Pablo Neruda Foundation is contesting Araya’s claims, saying that he doesn’t have evidence to back them up and that the poet died of late-stage prostate cancer:

The Pablo Neruda Foundation, which promotes the poet’s artistic legacy and runs three museums, has discounted the theory raised by Araya. The foundation said in a statement in May that he has been “insisting without any proof other than his own belief.”

Neruda died in the same hospital where former President Eduardo Frei died in 1982 while recovering from a hernia operation. A judge is investigating claims by Frei’s family that he may have been poisoned by government agents just as he appeared to be emerging as a prominent opponent of Pinochet’s regime.

Read the full AP report.


Posted in Poetry News on Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 by Harriet Staff.