Poetry News

Chile to Investigate Death of Pablo Neruda

By Harriet Staff

According to the Guardian, Chile is investigating the death of Nobel-prize winner Pablo Neruda in order to explain Augusto Pinochet's involvement. The Chile communist party is claiming that Neruda was injected with poison while in a Santiago health clinic undergoing treatment for prostate cancer (which led to heart failure and ultimately death) just 12 days after the Pinochet regime took power in a bloody coup in 1973--information they've learned from Neruda's former driver, Manuel Araya. "If confirmed the allegation would rank as one of the dictatorship's vilest murders given Neruda's status as a revered literary great at home and abroad." Also:

Neruda, a communist and political activist, had just written an article excoriating the military regime and defending his friend Salvador Allende, the socialist president who died during the coup.

Guillermo Teillier, president of the communist party, told the appellate court there was a moral requirement to clarify Neruda's cause of death. "We are acting responsibly, reasonable doubts exist," he told journalists.

The Neruda Foundation, which administers his estate, has rejected the murder theory and said the author of Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair was gravely ill.

The communist party said however that other Neruda staff had echoed the driver's suspicion and that Mexico's former ambassador to Chile, Gonzalo Martínez Corbalá, apparently found Neruda in good form a day before his death.

Six people, including Pinochet agents, allegedly poisoned a former president, Eduardo Frei, in the same clinic in 1981. They were charged last year in connection with his death.

You can read the entire article here.

Originally Published: June 2nd, 2011